From Billboard magazine:   

When news broke that the Michael Jackson estate would sell its 50 percent share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing to Sony  in a $750 million deal, many wondered whether Paul McCartney would  finally be able to acquire the rights to his share of the company’s  crown jewel -- the Lennon-McCartney catalog -- since it begins coming up  for reversion in 2018.

Billboard can confirm that as of Dec. 15, 2015, he has already begun the process.

To  recap, at some point during the early ‘80s heyday of McCartney’s  friendship with Jackson, he pointed out the value of music publishing.  Jackson soon received a tip that ATV Music -- publisher of the Beatles’  Lennon-McCartney songs, among many others -- was available, and  purchased it for $47.5 million in 1985. McCartney had long coveted his  Beatles catalog -- he and Lennon lost out to ATV in a 1969 attempt to  purchase Northern Songs, their original publisher -- and he never  forgave Jackson for what he considered a betrayal of their friendship.

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It’s  an opportunity McCartney is not going to let slip past him again. The  U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 gave songwriters the ability to recapture the  publishers’ share of their songs, and in the case of titles written  before 1978, writers can recapture songs after two consecutive 28-year  terms, or 56 years. (That legislation allows for writers of songs issued  in or after 1978 to recapture their publishing after 35 years.)

The Lennon-McCartney catalog begins hitting the 56-year mark in 2018.

In  order to reclaim publishing ownership of a song, a songwriter must file  with the U.S. Copyright Office, terminating the publishing anywhere  from 2 to 10 years before the 56 years elapse, in order to obtain  ownership of that song’s publishing in a timely manner. (If the writer  doesn’t put in a notice within that window, they have another five-year  period to reclaim the copyrights but each day’s delay adds another day  that the publisher owns the copyright.)

Billboard has confirmed  that on Dec. 15, 2015, McCartney filed a termination notice of 32 songs  with the U.S. Copyright Office. Additionally, another source confirmed  that he has filed termination notices for his songs that were issued on  Beatles records from 1962-1964, although many of the titles he has moved  to terminate were issued much later, including the 1969 and 1970  songs “Come Together,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” “She Came  In Through The Bathroom Window,” and seven other songs on the Abbey Road  album, as well as the single tracks Don’t Let Me Down” and “The Ballad  of John & Yoko.” Most of the songs carry a termination date in  October 2025, while “Get Back,” carries a termination date of April 18,  2025; and “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road,” on June 17, 2025.

According  to the filing with U.S. Copyright Office, McCartney sent Sony/ATV Tunes  LLC a notice of termination of grand under 17 USC section 304(C) on  Dec. 15 by certified mail.

While many of the titles are widely  acknowledged to be solo Lennon compositions -- the duo continued to  share songwriter credit for the duration of the Beatles' existence --  the Act applies just to McCartney's share. “Only the McCartney half of  the Lennon/McCartney songs are eligible for termination, and only for  the U.S.,” an insider explained to Billboard, adding, “Sony/ATV still  owns [those] Beatles songs in the rest of the world.”

In the case  of Lennon, who died in 1980, the publisher's portion of his share of the  Lennon-McCartney catalog for songs written in 1962 became eligible for  reversion in 1990, because his death occurred during the first 28-year  copyright term. However, in 2009, sources told Billboard that Sony/ATV cut a deal with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono,  prior to the reversion dates that enabled it to retain its publisher's  share for the life of the copyright, which lasts for 70 years after the  author's death. But where there are co-writers, the countdown begins  after the last author dies. As Paul McCartney is still alive, the clock  hasn't begun to tick yet.

Asked whether Sony overpaid for Sony/ATV  given the coming reversion, the insider said no -- half of the  Lennon-McCartney publishing for the world excluding the U.S. is not  chump change by any measure.

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