For works published or copyrighted prior to January 1, 1978, the sixth circuit court of appeals made a landmark decision holding the copyright renewal term vests in the music publisher when the author dies during the twenty-eighth year after copyright was secured — the last year of the fist copyright term.
The history of the case can be found here and here. Miller’s heirs have been in a litigation with Sony Music Publishing for years over who owns the songs that Miller wrote in 1964. Miller died in 1992, the 28th year after writing songs such as “King of the Road” and “Dang Me.”
It takes a family with assets to pursue litigation to trial, appeal and back again. The Miller estate has helped to clarify, at least in the sixth circuit, an unanswered question in copyright law.
Read the opinion here.