Village People Case: You Can Terminate Grants of Copyright, Regardless of Other Authors

Victor Willis, the former lead singer of the Village People, won a victory copyright case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. In Scorpio Music S.A., et al v. Victor Willis, publisher Scorpio Music said Willis was not entitled to terminate grants of his copyright interests in such hits as “Y.M.C.A.” and “In The Navy” under Section 203(a)(1) of the Copyright Act. The judge thought differently: Willis had the right to terminate his grants notwithstanding that there were other co-authors of the works at issue.

The music industry needs to take a deep gulp of air until such time as the case is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ramifications of this are huge.