If this were a Seinfeld episode it would be called “How the Ex Girlfriend Came to Own Six Beatles Songs.” Yes, it seems that through a quirk of history, timing and legal maneuvering six very early Beatles hits are not part of the much vaunted Lennon-McCartney catalog at Sony/ATV Music Publishing. And now they belong, at least for now, to Josh Gruss, husband of ex-Jerry Seinfeld girlfriend Shoshanna Lonstein. Strange, but true.
The songs are “I Saw Her Standing There,” “I Feel Fine,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “She Loves You,” “From Me to You,” “Misery,” and “There’s a Place.” The songs were never part of the regular catalog because they were from the Beatles’ early and brief stay on VeeJay Records circa 1962. Last year, surprisingly, the owner of the song sold them for an unknown amount to tiny, new music publisher Round Hill Music.
This is where Shoshanna comes in: her husband, Josh, owns Round Hill. He partnered up with a financier called Adage. For some reason, the songs were not offered to Sony/ATV, or to Paul McCartney or Yoko Ono.
But the latter two may not mind so much. First of all, Round Hill only got the U.S. rights. And second, in 2018, as the songs turn 56, they will being reverting back to Lennon-McCartney under the Copyright Law of 1976. So Shoshanna is just babysitting them, via Round Hill, for the next five years.
What will happen in 2018? Paul McCartney will likely start taking back his rights to the songs he wrote with John Lennon. He has his own publishing company, MPL. Eventually he’ll get back everything Michael Jackson got when he bought the Beatles catalog in 1984. Jackson’s big Beatles part will be over by 2026. The loser could be Sony/ATV Music, unless they can strike a deal with McCartney to continue administering the songs and taking fees.
As for John Lennon: because he died during the term of copyright, his heirs have already been collecting a portion larger than McCartney. That’s thanks to the Songwriters Act of 1927. I’ve been told that the Lennon estate has already worked out a deal to stay with Sony/ATV even after 2018 kicks in. In that case, McCartney will be connected to the company anyway.