*As Victor Willis, the original lead singer of the Village People, fights to regain control over his share of the copyright credit for 32 of the band’s songs, including the hit “Y.M.C.A.,” the music publisher Can’t Stop Music has withdrawn an important claim that the songs were works made for hire, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The development came at an oral hearing on Tuesday that will determine the validity of Willis’ termination notices to the music publisher.
A judge will soon rule on whether to dismiss the music publisher’s lawsuit against Willis. The plaintiff is seeking a declaration in California federal court that songs created by multiple authors can’t be terminated by a single co-author.
But the plaintiff has dropped one of its claims — that the songs were works made for hire. This is an important distinction because if Willis was deemed to be the music publisher’s employee at the time of creation, under U.S. copyright law, he wouldn’t technically be the “author.”
Willis’ side is presenting the development as a big victory.
“The work for hire issue is expected to be the main argument by record companies and publishers against artists seeking to terminate,” says Linda Smythe, a publicist for Willis. “Essentially, the publishers had no choice but to cave on the issue of work for hire and they did so by dismissing that part of their claim.”