Ex-wife Brian Wilson sues after $50 million deal with UMPG

Brian Wilson’s ex-wife Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford is suing the Beach Boys founding singer and songwriter after a $50 million deal Wilson struck with Universal Music Publishing Group to sell the song rights to the publisher, according to recently filed legal documents obtained by rolling stone

Wilson-Rutherford first sued Wilson in Los Angeles court in February, two months after the deal with UMPG was closed. The case was taken to federal court on Friday. According to its lawsuit, UMPG paid Wilson nearly $32 million for his share as a songwriter and another $19 million for his reversion rights. (U.S. artists can reclaim the rights to their songs approximately 35 years after they are signed due to the 1976 copyright law, these are known as reversion or termination rights). Such as Billboard noted first, UMPG never disclosed the deal. The company did not immediately respond to: rolling stone‘s request for comment

Wilson-Rutherford claims in her legal files that she was paid approximately $11 million of the writer’s share, but claims she owes an additional $6.7 million from the termination rights.

Wilson-Rutherford and Wilson were married from 1964 to 1978, and after their divorce, she became the 50 percent owner of Wilson’s songwriting royalties. Wilson’s legal counsel does not dispute her rights to the writer’s share, but argues that because Wilson could not recover his copyrights until more than 30 years after their divorce was finalized, Wilson-Rutherford is not entitled to any money from the restitution agreement.

Still, although she insisted she owed no money from the repurchase agreement, in December Wilson’s counsel offered Wilson-Rutherford about $3.3 million “to settle all the issues” between the ex-couple. In February, her charges were filed, alleging she owed twice as much.

“This is a business dispute between Brian and his ex-wife over who owns ‘copyright termination interests’ in songs Brian wrote or helped write during their marriage,” Wilson’s attorneys said in a statement. rolling stone† “With this filing, we are simply asking that the dispute be resolved in federal court, where we believe it should be. We will not comment further on this and let the filed files speak for themselves.”

A Wilson-Rutherford attorney did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

While UMPG never disclosed the deal with Wilson, it’s not a surprising development. The song rights market has boomed in recent years as both music companies and deep-pocketed financial institutions have been willing to make previously unheard-of cash offers to artists and songwriters, who take the cash instead of rolling the dice on future ones. earnings. Legacy artists have been particularly active in selling their rights, leaving their musical legacy in the hands of corporations and instead taking significant cash for their estates. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks are among the most notable legacy artists to sell. According to emails sent to Wilson-Rutherford’s counsel by Wilson’s attorneys last November, UMPG was offering a 30-fold multiple of the rights they had purchased, which they said was “unheard of for a passive royalty interest like this.”

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