Bob Dylan has been sued by the wife of his former collaborator, the late Jacques Levy, following the $300 million sale of is songwriting catalogue. Levy’s wife is seeking $7.25 million due to Levy having co-written songs from Dylan’s 1976 album Desire, including the singles “Hurricane” and “Isis.”
Levy’s family alleges that they are owed 35 percent of income earned tracks that he had co-written. The lawsuit has both Dylan and Universal Music Group, who had bought Dylan’s catalog as defendants.
“This lawsuit is a sad attempt to unfairly profit off of the recent catalog sale,” Orin Snyder, Dylan’s lawyer, had said in a statement, according to Pitchfork. “The plaintiffs have been paid everything they are owed. We are confident that we will prevail. And when we do, we will hold plaintiffs and their counsel responsible for bringing this meritless case.”
Dylan had sold his entire publishing catalog in early December, making $300 million from the sale. The deal had included around 600 songs from his catalogue, encompassing songs he had co-written and the rights to The Band’s “The Weight,” the only song he hadn’t written, but still owned rights to.
Many other artists have been selling their catalogs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Mick Fleetwood, KT Tunstall, Shakira, Ryan Tedder, Neil Young, Linsey Buckingham, Jimmy Iovine and David Crosby.
According to Rolling Stone, there could be several reasons behind the influx of artists selling the rights to their music. One could be that, due to the lack of touring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, artists are having to sell their music in order to make money. A lack of revenue from streaming services may also be amplifying the need to sell catalogs in order to make money, so that artists can gain revenue in one lump sum. Another theory is that, due to Biden’s proposed tax plan, artists may have been trying to gain income from sales before having to pay more in taxes. Rolling Stone also theorized that Dylan and others may have sold their catalog in order to help divide money for their estate.