Paul McCartney has begun the process of re-acquiring The Beatles' catalog three decades after it was purchased by Michael Jackson. According to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, songwriters have the ability to reclaim the publishers' share of their songs after 56 years. The Lennon-McCartney catalog will qualify at the beginning in 2018, although McCartney is only eligible to reclaim his half of their compositions and only in the United States. In 2009, Yoko Ono agreed to a deal with Sony/ATV giving the company ownership of John Lennon's half for the life of the copyright.
Surprisingly, Paul has never before owned the rights to a majority of the music he wrote as a member of The Beatles, as the compositions were originally owned by Northern Songs, the publishing company established by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Following Epstein's death in 1967, Northern Songs was sold to ATV Music, despite efforts by McCartney and Lennon to purchase the company themselves, while in 1985, Michael Jackson famously purchased ATV Music after having a conversation with McCartney about the value of music publishing. 10 years later, Jackson agreed to a merge ATV with Sony, relinquishing half of the music in the process. Sony acquired the remaining 50% from Jackson’s estate earlier this month. And now, McCartney has filed a termination notice for 32 Lennon-McCartney songs last December.