Rolan Seymour Feld, the son of T Rex frontman Marc Bolan, who died in 1977 is suing London based music publisher Westminster Music Limited for a sum of $2m (£1.3m) in a violation of copyright action in the US.
Feld claims that as Bolan’s only heir, he is the sole owner and administrator of his father’s songs in the US. Bolan transferred the copyright to his songs to Westminster Music Limited for a period of one year by way of a document signed in 1968. However, Feld alleges that the company “never timely” provided his father with written notice that it wished to extend the term.
The court documents also state that “In an attempt to cover up their conduct and mislead the public as to the true owner and administrator of the United States copyright in and to each of the Compositions, Defendants falsely registered with the Copyright Office a claim to the renewed and extended term of copyright for each of the Compositions.”
The basis of Feld’s argument is a provision in US copyright law that gives the creators of works published before 1978 the opportunity to regain control after 28 years. If the creator dies during the initial term of 28 years, any extended rights are automatically passed to their heirs unless the creator entered into an agreement to transfer those rights while they were alive.
The result of this case will be followed keenly, as it may have a major impact for musicians whose works fall into the same copyright category and whose heirs have found it difficult to obtain royalties from their administrators.