Lawsuit Over Bob Dylan's 'Desire' Songs Dismissed - Rolling Stone
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Bob Dylan Prevails in Appeal of Lawsuit Filed Over Royalty Dispute

Widow of Jacques Levy sought 10-song share of Dylan’s $300 million publishing deal

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Bob Dylan

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UPDATE (4/5): Bob Dylan successfully fended off an appeal of a lawsuit filed by the widow of former collaborator, Jacques Levy, who’s argued she deserves a cut of his $300 million publishing deal, Billboard reports. The ruling from New York’s Appellate Division was handed down Tuesday, April 5, with the panel of judges calling Dylan’s agreement with Levy “unambiguous” in that it does not entitle Levy’s widow, Claudia, “proceeds from the sale of the copyrights of the compositions cowritten with Dylan.” Levy can try to appeal the decision once more to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest appellate court in the state.

“Today’s decision puts the nail in the coffin of this opportunistic lawsuit,” Dylan’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, said in a statement. “We are pleased the court has again rejected this sad attempt to profit off of Bob’s recent catalog sale.”

A lawyer for Levy did not immediately return a request for comment.

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A lawsuit against Bob Dylan over royalties connected to his 1976 album Desire — filed soon after Dylan’s $300 million publishing deal with Universal Music Group — was thrown out Friday by a New York supreme court judge.

In January, the widow of Jacques Levy — Dylan’s co-writer on 10 tracks, including seven songs on Desire — sued Dylan for $7.25 million, arguing that Levy had a deal with the singer for a 35 percent stake in the income the songs generated. Using the $300 million sale of the 600-song Dylan catalog as a price-setter, Levy’s widow Claudia and her legal team came up with $1.75 million as fair share on the Levy co-written songs, plus $2 million in punitive damages, Variety reported.

A representative for Levy did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

However, Dylan’s and Universal Music Group’s legal team argued that Levy was simply an “employee for hire” for Dylan — a claim proven in the 1974 contract between Levy and Dylan that stated Levy was an “employee” approximately 84 times — and that Levy, who died in 2004, did not have co-ownership of the songs he and Dylan worked on together.

Judge Barry Ostrager ultimately agreed with Dylan’s lawyers, dismissing the Levy lawsuit in an 18-page decision. “For the reasons explained here, the Court determines that the plain meaning of the 1975 Agreement is that the Dylan Defendants owned all copyrights to the Compositions,” Ostrager wrote (via Variety.)

“We’re pleased with today’s decision,” Dylan’s attorney Orin Snyder said in a statement Friday. “As we said when the case was filed, this lawsuit was a sad attempt to profit off the recent catalog sale. We’re glad it’s now over.”

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