KC Sunshine Band Member Seeks to Terminate Copyright

Steven T. Lowe

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 02: Harry Wayne Casey of KC & The Sunshine Band performs on stage at KOKO on July 2, 2017, in London, England. (Photo by C Brandon/Redferns)

On October 8, 2021, Richard Finch (“Finch”), guitarist of the 70’s group, “KC and the Sunshine Band,” (most notable known for their hit songs: “That’s The Way (I Like It),” “(Shake, Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty,” and “Boogie Shoes”) brought suit against Sony’s EMI Longitude Music in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, looking to reclaim the rights to 99 compositions that Finch co-wrote with his former band member, Harry Wayne Casey (“Casey”). EMI currently owns the copyrights to the songs named in the suit. The two band members, Finch and Casey, wrote the 99 songs together and registered them with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1970. In 1982, disputes began to arise between Finch and Casey after the band ceased playing together.  In 1983, Finch entered into an agreement with Casey, where Finch assigned his rights and royalty interests to the songs Casey. Finch regretted this decision. In both 1985 and 2004, Finch alleges that he attempted to terminate the agreement by using legal challenges, such as fraud and incapacity. The complaint cites that these attempts were unsuccessful.

Finally, in 2019, Finch invoked his rights under the Copyright Act to terminate his grant of rights and reclaim his interest. Under Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976, authors can elect to terminate the grant of copyright after 35 years of the initial grant. Pursuant to this right, Finch sent EMI notice of termination on September 30, 2019, stating the termination of the copyright grant would go into effect on October 1, 2021. However, EMI continues to exploit the compositions as if Finch is not a co-owner, despite receiving notice of termination based upon the previous transfer of rights to Casey. Finch is asking the courts to issue a judgment that the termination of the grant was valid and thus Finch owns 50% of the copyrights in question.

The complaint is Finch v. EMI Consortium Songs Inc. d/b/a EMI Longitude Music, case number 2:21-cv-08032, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Finch is represented by Evan S. Cohen of Cohen Music Law.

Counsel for EMI Consortium Songs Inc. d/b/a EMI Longitude Music has not been identified.

Read more at: https://www.law360.com/articles/1429771* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving entertainment law, providing top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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