Dwight Yoakam Sues Warner Music Over Music Rights
Dwight Yoakam is suing Warner Music over the rights to some of his older, best-known recordings. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Yoakam filed suit against the music giant in federal court in California on Monday (Feb. 8), claiming that the label has refused to confirm his right to reclaim the copyrights to some of his music.
Yoakam's suit hinges on Section 203 of the Copyright Act, a law passed in 1976 that allows the authors of copyrighted works to cancel their copyright grants and regain the rights to those works after a specified period of time. In the case of newer works, that period of time is 35 years. Yoakam's landmark debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., was released in 1986 via Warner subsidiary Reprise Records.
Yoakam's legal filing claims that Warner Music subsidiary Rhino has refused to definitively acknowledge that he has reclaimed the rights to certain works — specifically, his recordings of "Honky Tonk Man" and "Miner's Prayer" — despite repeated notices on his part of his intent to do so. According to legal documents THR obtained, Rhino countered his initial notices by proposing new terms for his existing deal and told Yoakam some works would be "taken down" after he sent a draft version of his legal complaint before filing his lawsuit.
Yoakam's legal filing seeks a declaration of the termination of his copyrights and unspecified damages for alleged copyright infringement on the part of Warner Music. He is demanding a jury trial.
"The termination rights Congress gave to artists like Mr. Yoakam to gain control back over their intellectual property are essential rights that should not be interfered with or delayed," Yoakam's attorney, Richard Busch at King & Ballow, says in a statement to THR. "We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but we were forced to do so for all of the reasons set forth in detail in the Complaint."
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