Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Court Rules in Favor of Ray Charles' Children in Copyright Case

The children of the late-Ray Charles have won in court over the Ray Charles Foundation in a case that determined the ownership of the copyright on about 60 of his songs.

The songs involved in the ruling included such classics as I Got a Woman, Hallelujah I Love Her So and A Fool For You. Charles had an agreement with the foundation before his death that he would leave all of his works to them to fund their charitable work. He also granted each of his ten children $500,000 each with the  stipulation that they make no claims against the foundation.

That went out the window after Charles' passing when seven of the ten used copyright laws to give notice to Warner/Chappell Music that they would be terminating the longstanding agreement with the company in 2010. For the Foundation, that meant that the money made by the copyrights would no longer come to them,  a major impact on their activities.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins found in favor of Charles' children, writing "The Foundation is not a grantee of the rights to be terminated or its successor. Congress did not even require the statutory heirs provide it with statutory notice of the termination, let alone give it a seat at the table during the termination process."

The judge also made a provision allowing Charles' children to recoup their attorney's fees, something their lawyer, Marc Tuberoff, heralded as setting a far reaching precedent for artists and their heirs who no longer will have to fear large companies using their resources to drain an individuals money in a protracted lawsuit.

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