Village Person Regains Rights

A California federal judge ruled May 8 that former Village People lead singer Victor Willis has the right to reclaim ownership of copyrights to songs he co-wrote for the 1970s disco group but signed over about 35 years ago.

U.S. District Judge Barry T. Moskowitz dismissed a lawsuit filed by music publishers Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, Inc. claiming Willis had no right to reclaim ownership of 33 songs, including “Y.M.C.A.,” “In The Navy” and “Go West,” that he co-wrote under contract, according to court documents.

Moskowitz disagreed, saying that under the Copyright Act of 1976, Willis was the only joint author to transfer his copyright interests so he has the right to terminate the agreement.

The case is said to be the first regarding the copyright provision to go before a judge and could mean substantially more in royalties for the performer.

Moskowitz is allowing the music publishers to refile their claim as to what percentage of the rights belongs to Willis.