In a battle over rights to Ray Charles’ famous songs, the charitable foundation that was bequeathed the singer’s money and assets is suddenly in a tough spot, in danger of losing the substantial revenues that “I Got a Woman,” “A Fool for You,” “Mary Ann” and other hits generate each year.
That’s because Charles’ children, who largely were cut out of the will, are attempting to terminate a copyright grant on the songs to Warner/Chappell Music. If the songs reverted to the children, then the Ray Charles Foundation no longer would get royalty checks.
In late March, facing this potential loss, the foundation sued the children, seeking a declaration that the termination notices are invalid. To make this argument, the estate argued that Charles’ songs were made under employment to a record label and music publisher. As such, these songs are allegedly works made for hire, “authored” by the predecessor to Warner/Chappell, and the children have no termination rights.