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Sony Music

R&B Singer James Mtume Sues Sony Over Song Rights

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NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Soul musician James Mtume is the latest musician to make a bid to reclaim the rights for his sound recordings under the Termination of Transfers clause of the U.S. Copyright Act and has taken Sony Records to court.

Mtume is making use of section 203 of the U.S. Copyright Act allows musicians to reclaim rights to their works after a period of 35 years, starting on January 1st, 1978.

Mtume is seeking reversion of the rights for sound recordings he created between 1978 and 1983, including his hits “Just Funnin'” and “Juicy Fruit” which sat at #1 in the Billboard R&B chart for eight weeks in 1983.

Court filings on behalf of Mtume claim that he sent a copyright termination notice in July 2015 with effective dates in 2017 and 2018 to Sony and further claims that the label did not respond at all until July 2017, more than two weeks after the first termination date.

Court filings by Mtume include letters purportedly from Sony, which attribute the delay in responding to administrative errors.

In a letter submitted with Mtume’s lawsuit, Sony refuted the termination notice, stating that the music was made Mtume as part of a ‘work for hire’ relationship with Sony and not subject to termination. Sony also contested the dates, stating that they were “unaware of any copyright grants” that would be applicable to the termination notice.

Sony goes on to contend even if the termination notice were valid, that Sony would retain a stake in at least some if not all of the tracks in question due to other potential authors involved in the creation of the copyrighted works who have not submitted termination notices.

Mtume’s attorneys characterized Sony’s objects as “frivolous” and requested that the court grant the termination request.

The lawsuit was first reported by Variety.

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