The Jesus And Mary Chain are taking legal action against Warner Music Group.
The suit hinges on ownership of their back catalogue, with brothers Jim and William Reid arguing that WMG has refused to terminate its copyright ownership of their earlier work.
In a suit filed by an attorney yesterday (June 14th) in a California federal court, the group cited Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976, which allows authors to ask copyright holders to terminate grants of copyright ownership 35 years after a work’s publication.
The Jesus and Mary Chain sent Warner Music Group a letter dated January 7th, 2019 requesting notice of termination over their opening five albums - 'Psychocandy' to 'Honey's Dead' - alongside singles, and non-album ephemera.
An attorney for WMG label Rhino responded to the Reids late last year: “WMG is the owner of the copyrights throughout the world in each of the sound recordings comprising the Noticed Works, and the Notice is not effective to terminate WMG’s U.S. rights.”
Citing their WEA contract from 1985, the attorney said: “As a result, you never owned any copyrights in the recordings which you could terminate”.
The Jesus and Mary Chain have sent subsequent notices of termination, with lawyer Evan S. Cohen commenting:
Our copyright law provides recording artists and songwriters with a valuable, once-in-a-lifetime chance to terminate old deals and regain their creative works after 35 years. This “second chance” has always been a part of our copyright law. In this case against WMG, the label has refused to acknowledge the validity of any of the Notices of Termination served by the Jesus and Mary Chain, and has completely disregarded band’s ownership rights.
Despite the law returning the U.S. rights to the band, WMG is continuing to exploit those recordings and thereby willfully infringing upon our clients’ copyrights. This behavior must stop. The legal issues in this suit are of paramount importance to the music industry.
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