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Publishing Rights to Six Early Beatles Songs Sold

Michael Webb, Getty Images

So as it turns out, the estate of Michael Jackson doesn’t own the global publishing rights to every Beatles song ever. In fact, the North American rights to six early Fab Four songs have just been snapped up by a company you’ve probably never even heard of.

Round Hill Music, a boutique music publisher that’s only a year old, paid an undisclosed sum for the rights to ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ ‘She Loves You,’ ‘Misery,’ ‘From Me to You,’ ‘There’s a Place’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Man.’

Investment banker Josh Gruss, who founded Round Hill, said the company’s focus is “acquiring iconic music,” and it already owns the rights to songs made popular by artists like Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi and Katy Perry. Round Hill joined with the Adage Group, another holder of historic music copyrights, to buy the tunes in a deal for the GIL Music and GPS Music catalogs.

Those catalogs had been controlled by the Pincus family, a team of New York publishers that cut a special deal for the Beatles songs after seeing the group in England in 1963. The Pincuses’ little-known deal for those six songs granted rights to the family that lasted for the duration of the songs’ copyrights.

Round Hill and Adage can now collect songwriting royalties and licensing income for the songs — but only in the U.S. and Canada. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the joint venture between Sony and the estate of Michael Jackson, had tried and failed to buy the domestic rights to the songs in the past, but still controls the publishing for them everywhere else.

Still, even just the North American rights could be worth millions. Neil Gillis, Round Hill’s president, said the company will now seek out new sources of income for the songs using movie, television and merchandising deals — striking yet another blow to Beatles fans who feel using their music that way borders on heresy.

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