Friday, February 27, 2015

Should Victor Willis of ‪The Village People‬ still get $ after signing away his rights? ‪

Earlier this month, a trial opened to determine the rightful songwriter behind 24 of the Village People’s songs, one of which includes their biggest hit "YMCA."

The original debate surrounding these famous songs began in 2012 when the group’s key singer-songwriter Victor Willis won a landmark ruling in a copyright case, reclaiming partial ownership of dozens of the band’s songs.

In May 2012 a California judge allowed Willis, famous as the costume-loving disco group’s policeman character, to terminate a decades-old publishing deal, which would give him the right to expanded royalties for hits such as Y.M.C.A. and Macho Man. Willis now contends he co-authored the songs with just Jacques Morali and therefore was entitled to a 50% share, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Contesting this are Village People publishers Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, who have suggested the copyright registrations indicate a third author, Henri Belolo. They say the songs were originally French and then adapted by Willis. The publishers believe Willis is entitled to only a 33% share.

Willis’ side previously estimated a loss of $30m from the claim that his songs are adapted from original French songs.

Scheduled to testify on behalf of the Village People songwriter is his ex-wife and the Cosby Show actor Phylicia Rashad, famous for her role as Clair Huxtable. She is reportedly expected to testify that she witnessed Willis writing many of the songs at their home.

Felipe Rose, who dressed as a Native American in the band, is said to testify that he saw Belolo and Morali working together to create YMCA and other songs.

Willis was the original lead singer of the Village People, performing with the group from 1977-80.

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