Village People's "Cop" Gets His Music Back

Even if you don't know how to dance to it, everyone knows the "arm movements" that go with the song "YMCA."  That's as in, "It's fun to stay at the YYYYYY-M-C-A."  (Yeah, I know...now you'll have that darned tune in your head all day.)

Well, a new move recently came into play with the song.  The copyright on it moved from the record label back to one of the song's original creators, lyricist and performer Victor Willis.  He was the "police officer" in the 70s music group known as the Village People.

Mr. Willis executed the provision of U.S. copyright law, which allows artists to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years have elapsed, to take back the rights to 33 songs he wrote.  The music label fought it, claiming the Village People's product was a work-made-for-hire, the copyright of which belongs to the employer not the artist.  However, a federal court in California ruled in Mr. Willis's favor.  No word yet on whether there will be an appeal.

This is the first such case to go to court under the law, which took effect in 1978 -- that's 35 years ago.  The copyright reclamation law doesn't apply to songs written before then.  So this has been the first year artists could utilize the law.

And Now...Heeeeere's Jay in Court

Tonight Show host Jay Leno, as well as the TV show and NBC are under fire for vermin humor.  A former flight attendant is suing them because the show made her the butt of gags over her lawsuit against American Airlines stemming from co-workers' false allegations that she snuck pet rats on board a jet.

Louann Giambattista didn't take kindly to the jokes that insinuated she had a rat in her underwear for some sort of sexual thrill.  She says her marriage has suffered as a result of the ribbing, and she's suing for defamation.

Let the Selling Proceed

The Dia Art Foundation may proceed with plans to sell off about $20 million worth of the art in its collection.  The two founders who had filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction have withdrawn the suit.

According to the New York Times, Heiner Friedrich and Fariha de Menil Friedrich released a statement saying they consider the sale "utterly wrong," but they don't want to be in the position of fighting with the art foundation they helped to create.

The works will be put on the auction block at Sotheby's.

Court Decision Gives Original Blues Brother a Reason to Be Blue

Actor Dan Aykroyd can cry the blues over a Dutch court decision that ruled against him and the widow of his comic cohort, John Belushi, in a case that stems from the team's characters known as the Blues Brothers.

According to news reports, Mr. Aykroyd and Mr. Belushi's widow filed the suit to try to shut down a Blues Brothers tribute show performed in the Netherlands by a pair of Canadian brothers.  The Hague District Court ruled the originating team can't claim a copyright ownership over the black-suited dress and style of the characters they portrayed, and it dismissed the case.

Jones v. Jackson: A Case of Disputed Royalties

Music producer Quincy Jones is suing the Estate of Michael Jackson, claiming the King of Pop's estate has denied Mr. Jones the royalties he says he's enititle to for songs he helped produce.

According to a New York Times article, Mr. Jones is suing for $20 million in damages and an additional $10 million for each of the two contracts he claims were breached by the estate.

The article cites the concert movie, This Is It, as a big part of the claim.  The film, which recorded rehearsals of a Michael Jackson concert tour, grossed more than a quarter-billion dollars.  Apparently, a number of the songs in that film were musical numbers in which Mr. Jones had a hand.

The lawsuit also names Sony Music Entertainment as a defendant.