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POLICE ACADEMY

The Village People’s Cop Aims To Bust Music Company In Pivotal Copyright Case

Victor Willis—the “cop” from The Village People—could soon have a third claim to fame. (The second being that he was married to Clair Huxtable in the 1970s).

Willis, the disco group’s lead singer and co-writer, is trying to reclaim ownership of some 33 Village People songs—including “In The Navy,” “Go West,” and that paean to the epicenter of hetero masculinity, “Y.M.C.A.”—using a provision of copyright law that gives music rights back to songwriters and recording artists after 35 years. Given that “Y.M.C.A” is still played everywhere from weddings to Major League Baseball games, and that “Go West” is currently featured in Priscilla Queen of the Desert on Broadway, that could net Willis some serious do-re-mi.

Linda Smythe, a spokeswoman for Mr. Willis, said that royalties from Village People recordings currently earned him from $30,000 to $40,000 a year, a figure that she said would “triple or quadruple” if he succeeded in gaining rights to recordings made when he was a member of the group.

Seeking to block Willis’ claim are French company Scorpio Music and its U.S. subsidiary, Can’t Stop Productions. They claim he was essentially just an employee.

“The Village People were a concept group, created by my clients, who picked the people and the costumes. It was probably no different than the Monkees when they started. We hired this guy…we gave them the material and a studio to record in and controlled what was recorded, where, what hours and what they did.”

Scorpio shouldn’t be so blasé about this case: Willis has won infringement cases against Hallmark cards and the Tampa Bay Rays.  Don’t be surprised if he goes Rodney King on their French asses.

Image via victorwillisworld.com

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Aug 17, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
  • 5 Comments
    • Saywhatnow?
      Saywhatnow?

      “Rodney King”??? and do you mean the Clair Huxtable who was played by Phylicia Rashad? Queerty gives me a headache… again.

      Aug 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker
      Riker

      This is part of why American copyright laws are totally screwed up. The purpose of copyright is to encourage innovation, by granting the creator a monopoly over their creation for a limited time. With copyright terms extending for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something stupic like that, it actually serves to stifle innovation. Consider how much of today’s music is derived from previous generations. If copyright terms actually expired within a reasonable amount of time, artists would be even more free to build off of their elders.

      Aug 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Weird Math Professor
      Weird Math Professor

      @Riker: You’re confusing copyright with the patent system. Copyright protects an author from others plagiarizing their work or profiting from it without a license. If he’s really an author it’s his right to claim copyright, because someone is making money from licensing the music and it isn’t him.

      Aug 18, 2011 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      FTFA: “Don’t be surprised if he goes Rodney King on their French asses.”

      Mr. Avery, I’m not one to shout “racism!” over every perceived offense, but that was pretty egregiously racist and utterly inapropos.

      If you do not understand why, please consult an adult.

      Aug 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SUZANNE DAY
      SUZANNE DAY

      VICTOR WILLIS’S STORIES FROM HIS PUBLICIST /MOST LIKELY HIS WIFE SEEM TO QUOTE DIFFERENT INCOME AMOUNTS AT WILL . HIS INCOME WHILE LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO WAS OVER TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND A YEAR , WHICH HE SPENT ON SMOKING CRACK 24–7. NOW IT IS POOR VICTOR.. WHILE LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO HE CREATED HIS OWN (HOTEL CALIFORNIA)THE SMOKE WAS THICK AND ONE WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO STEP OVER ALL THE WOMEN HE WAS KEEPING AROUND HIM FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER.FOR A LITTLE ROCK THEY WOULD COOK, CLEAN, DO LAUNDRY, WASH HIS CAR, RUN HIS ERRANDS,AND GIVE HEAD.THIS MAN IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE NEXT SCAM AND THIS IS HIS ONLY WAY TO GET MORE MONEY.YES IF HE IS THE RIGHTFUL OWNER OF THESE SONGS THEN HE SHOULD BENEFIT. HOWEVER ,I AND SEVERAL OTHERS IN S.F. ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO EVERY THING THAT THIS ANIMAL HAS TAKEN FROM US.IF YOU WOULD ENJOY MORE INFO ,FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME AT suzzieday@gmail.com HAVE A GREAT DAY

      Aug 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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