Is it true that Michael Jackson owns the Beatles' back catolgue, and if so, why is this?
#95542. Asked by billythebrit. (May 11 08 5:13 AM)
Yes, sort of.|
What Michael Jackson bought for $47.5 million in 1985 was the publishing rights to 159 or 251 Beatles songs, depending on who's counting. To maybe oversimplify a complicated business, publishing rights are basically the sheet music rights. When Paul McCartney wanted to print the lyrics to "Eleanor Rigby" and other Beatles classics in the program for his 1989 world tour, he discovered he'd have to pay a fee to Michael Jackson.
In 1985, after a short period in which the parent company was owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court, ATV Music was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), including the publishing rights to over 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.
A decade later Jackson and Sony merged its music publishing businesses. Since 1995, Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have jointly owned most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles. Meanwhile, Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective songwriter shares of the royalties.
In the past few years, the media has speculated that Jacko may need to sell the Beatles' rights to pay for his extravagant lifestyle and mounting legal costs. Sony reports that Jackson used his half of the Beatles' catalog as collateral for a loan from the music company.
If Jackson defaults on the loan, Sony has the right to buy his share. In 2001, Jackson stated: "The Beatles catalogue is not for sale, has not been for sale and will never be for sale." But who knows? Maybe he'll try to take a sad song and make it better by cashing in.
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