Victor Willis Set to Take Back Control of Songs; May Block Village People Performances

Victor Willis, the original policeman of the Village People, is looking to win back the rights to 33 of his songs.

Willis signed away his rights to such hits as YMCA, In the Navy and Go West back during the peak of the Village People's popularity; however, a part of copyright legislation that was put into effect in 1978 allowed songwriters to reclaim the rights on their songs, even if they sold them, 35 years after the original agreement. That period expired on January 1, 2013.

While final rulings are yet to be made, including how much of the catalog he will obtain, Willis and his lawyers are confident in their victory. A court has said that the reversion may move forward, lawyers for the companies holding the rights have filed an appeal.

What is a bit disconcerting is Willis' plans if he does obtain the rights. He left the group in 1980 and returned for just a short stint two years later before going solo.  Since that time, except for the year 1986, the Village People have remained a touring and recording entity with two of the original members, Felipe Rose (Native American) and Alex Briley (G.I./Sailor) being the constant over the years.

Willis, though, has told the New York Times that he is considering blocking the current version of the group from singing any of his songs in the United States. He told the Times "I learned over the years that there are some awesome powers associated with copyright ownership. You can stop somebody from performing your music if you want to, and I might object to some usages."

Up next, if Willis prevails, is how other artists who have signed away the rights to their music proceed in the courts.

1 comment

Mattster said...

Learn from Frank Sinatra, own all the music you sing even if it costs money. Michael Jackson learned from Paul McCartney that ownership is where the money is then Michael bought the Beatles catalog. Songs are like children to me and I wouldn't sell my children, if I had any

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