The Village People’s Policeman wins landmark royalties court case

Victor Willis has regained the right to royalties from the disco band's back catalogue

The Policeman from The Village People has won a landmark legal case, giving him back partial ownership of a host of the disco band’s songs.

Victor Willis, the original lead singer with the group, has been allowed to terminate an old publishing deal, meaning he can now reclaim royalties for the band’s hits, such as ‘YMCA’. The case will set a precedent in the United States, as it means songwriters will be able to claim back the publishing rights to their old material, reports The Guardian.

The case stems from amendments made to the US Copyright Act in 1978, which says that writers can terminate copyright deals 35 years after they have been signed. The law takes effect next year. Willis is the first to take advantage of this law, but Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Eagles are reportedly set to follow in his footsteps and have all informed their publishers and record labels that they will be ending their copyright deals.

In 2009, Willis sued a new incarnation of The Village People for $1 million over image issues. He sought the damages after claiming that his image and voice had been used for new promotional purposes without his consent.