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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Words of Wisdom from a "Macho Man"

Village People

The NYT reported that Victor Willis, who you may know as the policeman/naval officer from the Village People, will finally get control of copyright to certain songs that he wrote back in the day.  Those songs include hits like "YMCA," "In the Navy" and "Go West."  Yes, he also wrote "Macho Man," but unfortunately, he wrote tht one before the relevant law went into effect.  That law was a provision in the 1978 Copyright Act that gave creators "termination rights" that permitted them to take back control of the copyright to their works after 35 years - even if they had originally signed away those rights.  We've all heard the horror stories of our favorite musicians in their lean and/or naive years signing away rights in one-sided contracts that favor the labels.  His is the first well-known case of an artist invoking those termination rights, which opens up a lot of possibilities for him.  Mr. Willis is quoted in the NYT article as saying, "I've had lots of offers, from records and publishing companies" although he isn't sure what he'll do next.  He does have these parting words of wisdom, "When you're young, you just want to get out there and aren't really paying attention to what's on paper.  I never even read one contract they put in front of me, and that's a big mistake."  It takes a real "macho man" to admit his mistakes. 

 

[Nancy Kim]

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