It seems random, yet simple. You take a police officer, an indian, a cowboy, a biker, a construction worker and a G.I. and lhave them singing disco. That was Village People. Everyone can scream along – drunk or not – their biggest disco hit: YMCA. And do the funny arm dance that goes along with it.
Always a bit of an embarrassing moment when you forget how the letter were again…
The song YMCA is now the centerpiece of a copyright claim.
The original lead singer of VIllage People, Victor Willis, is planning to regain control of his share of the copyrights to YMCA in 2013. For us Europeans: the US Congress revised copyright law in 1976, inserting a provision that allows musicians and songwriters to regain control of work initially registered with the United States Copyright Office after Jan. 1, 1978. Artists must file termination notices at least two years before the date they want to recoup their work, and once a song or recording qualifies for termination, its authors have five years in which to file a claim; if they fail to act in that time, their right to reclaim the work lapses.
Willis’ claim, however, is being contested by the two companies that own the publishing rights to the song: Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions.
The interesting thing is that their do not deny that Willis has contributed to writing the song (and several other hit songs from Village People), but they claim that Willis, at that time, was an employee, and therefore has no legitimate claim to copyrights.
It will be up to the US court to decide whether Willis, 58 years old and no longer a “young man”, has a legitimate claim, which could earn him a lot of money, since the song made millions over the years. The royalties from Village People recordings currently earned Willis from $30,000 to $40,000 a year. If he were to succeed in his claim, this amount would “triple or quadruple”.
Now… it’s Friday. Close the door to your office, watch the video below and sing (and dance!!) along.