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Paul McCartney is suing Sony for the rights to his own Beatles songs

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Paul McCartney wants the rights to his songs back. So he's suing Sony to get them.

Sony has owned the rights to the Beatles' songs for years, acquiring them after Michael Jackson's death in 2009. Jackson bought ATV Music, which had published many of the Beatles' greatest hits, in 1985 for $47.5 million. 

But now, Bloomberg News reports, McCartney wants to rely on a 1978 copyright law to get his music back. And that could have a huge ripple effect throughout the music industry.

We're talking about a lot of works that are very valuable.
Jeffrey Kobulnick, intellectual property lawyer

The legal situation

McCartney argues that a quirk of copyright law gives songwriters who sold their rights before 1978 to reclaim them after 56 years. That deadline arrives next year. That only applies to the U.S. rights to the songs, but that's still a big deal, considering these songs include "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude," among other classics. 

But recent global precedent is in Sony's favor. It just beat Duran Duran in U.K. court after the iconic 1980s band tried to reclaim some of its songs, Bloomberg reports. The court ruled the band would violate its contract by terminating publishers' rights.

The ripple effect

If McCartney wins the case, expect a lot of other songwriters who sold rights in the 1960s to make similar moves. If he wins rights to his songs, he stands to make a ton of money by restructuring the contracts needed to play and perform them. 

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