US dollars money

Bob Dylan’s sale of his songs catalogue to Universal Music in December 2020 sparked a lawsuit from the widow of Jacques Levy, who co-wrote seven songs on Dylan’s 1976 album ‘Desire’. The argument was that because Levy was paid 35% of “any and all income earned by the compositions”, his estate should get the same share of those songs’ value in the acquisition.

However, a New York Country Judge ruled in Dylan’s favour in July last year, and now an appeals court panel of judges has confirmed that ruling. The gist: Levy’s estate are entitled to the 35% share of ‘mostly licensing royalties’ (in Reuters’ paraphrasing) but that this does not extend to the money paid for the catalogue itself.

“Nothing submitted by plaintiffs concerning music industry custom and practice supports a reading otherwise, or even suggests an ambiguity in the relevant contractual language,” ruled the panel.

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