11 October 2021CopyrightAlex Baldwin

KC & the Sunshine Band bassist sues publisher over copyrights

Former KC & the Sunshine Band member Richard Finch has sued Sony-owned music publisher EMI Longitude, asking a California court to reinstate his copyrights for nearly 100 of the band’s songs.

Finch filed the complaint with the US District Court for the Central District of California on Friday 8 October, seeking a declaratory judgment that he is entitled to a 50% share of the music.

The complaint lists several disco hits that Finch claims rights to, including "That's the Way (I Like It)", and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty".

Finch had agreed to assign his portion of the copyrights, his royalty interests, and other intangible property rights to his music to the band’s singer Harry Wayne Casey in 1982 following a dispute between the two.

Since signing that agreement, Finch claims to have received “nothing” from the exploitation of the band’s catalogue, with all royalties going to Casey.

Finch attempted to have the 1983 agreement cancelled on grounds of “fraud and incapacity” in both 1985 and 2004 but was unsuccessful.

In this latest complaint, Finch claims that this type of agreement can be cancelled with a Notice of Termination under Section 203 of the Copyright Act. He attempted to serve a notice to EMI in September 2019, with an effective date of termination for all compositions of October 1, 2021, but it was ignored by the record label.

Winning back rights

This suit follows the recent escalation of a dispute over who is entitled to copyrights of some of Marvel’s most recognisable characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Thor.

The estates of several former Marvel Comics artists had petitioned Disney to reassign copyrights of the characters back to their original creators and artists.

Disney shot back against these claims, filing countersuits against the estates of former Marvel alumni, including one against writer Lawrence Liever, the younger brother of former Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee.

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