Mr Willis argued that at the time he was young and had no lawyer, and he was not aware as to the meaning of what he was signing.
He told the New York Times that he only became aware of the termination rights when advised by his Welsh born lawyer wife, Karen. He said “ I’m hoping that other artists will get a good lawyer and get back the works that a lot of us gave away when we were younger, before we knew what was going on.”
It seems other litigation is on the horizon for Mr Willis as there is a dispute about co-writing credits which would influence the split of the royalties. In addition, Mr Willis whilst undecided, is contemplating stopping the current line of Village People from performing his songs in the USA. Maybe the YMCA should intervene as the lyrics do say:- “There's a place there called the y.m.c.a. They can start you back on your way.”
The Victor Willis case is amongst many US cases where artists are claiming back their copyright under the 1976 US Copyright Act. The law came into effect on the 1st January 1978 and under its terms once 35 years have elapsed the author of a song can claim back ownership of the copyright from the record company. Those pursuing such claims include Bruce Springsteen and Lipps Inc for their song Funky Town.
The record companies are mounting various defences given the potential and substantial revenue loss.