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A Tsunami Is About The Hit The Music Business And Paul McCartney Is Riding The Wave

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News that Paul McCartney was taking advantage of a US Copyright Act provision that allows songwriters to reclaim their catalog after 56 years has sent shock waves through the music industry. Imagine the impact on the bottom lines over the next decade as UMG, WMG and Sony lose revenue from hit song after hit song as songwriters exercise their rights.

Paul McCartney, one of the 10 richest musicians in the world,  has launched a bid to reclaim the publishing rights of at least some of The Beatles' back catalog.

According to Billboard, McCartney filed a termination notice for 32 songs with the US Copyright Office in December, taking advantage of the US copyright act of 1976, which gives songwriters an opportunity to reclaim rights after 56 years.

UPDATE: The number of songs in McCartney's filing has now been reported to total 178.

The earliest songs in the Lennon-McCartney catalog become available for reclamation in 2018. An unnamed source told Billboard that McCartney would only regain the rights for his half of the compositions he wrote with John Lennon. Moreover, the act only applies to music in the U.S., so Sony/ATV would retain rights to the music for the rest of the world.

Early on in their career, The Beatles, following advice from their manager Brian Epstein, formed a publishing company, Northern Songs, with British music publisher Dick James. In 1967, James abruptly sold his stake in the company to ATV Music for £1.5m, without offering The Beatles an opportunity to purchase the rights for themselves.

Michael Jackson later acquired ATV's catalog for $41.5m and later sold his stake to Sony.

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