Village People star Victor Willis has won a longrunning legal battle to reclaim the rights to more than 30 of the disco group's hit songs. The singer/songwriter, who portrayed a traffic cop in the band, left the line-up in 1979 and transferred his rights to 33 tracks, including Y.M.C.A. and In the Navy, to his publisher.
After experiencing a change of heart, the singer invoked a U.S. copyright provision, which can be activated after 35 years, and filed suit in 2011 to win back ownership of the tunes.
He became locked in a bitter fight with the bosses behind the Village People's catalogue, and last year (12) won a court motion to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at blocking his legal action. Now, more than a year later, his lawyers are claiming victory.
Willis' attorney, Jonathan Ross, tells the New York Times, "The termination (of the publisher's rights) is going to occur."
Ross insists the only existing issue concerns the division of rights between his client and co-writers Henri Belolo and the late Jacques Morali.
However, defence lawyer Stewart L. Levy is adamant the case is not over and declares Willis' copyright claim is "far from certain".