Report: Bob Dylan Sued by Co-Writer’s Widow Over Claim to Catalog Sale
The late Jacques Levy, a theatre director and songwriter, co-wrote seven songs with Bob Dylan for his 1976 record Desire. After Dylan sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music in December 2020, Levy’s widow Claudia has filed a $7.25 million lawsuit over the legendary artist’s sale (reportedly upwards of $300 million.) The story was first reported by Billboard.
According to the Billboard report, while Levy was a co-writer on the songs, he “never owned any of the songs sold.” Rather, his deal with Dylan was a ‘work-for-hire’ agreement which gave Dylan full ownership of the songs. However, the deal also stipulated that Levy (and his publisher) were entitled to 35% of the songs’ revenue, “paid by Dylan or directly from a performance rights organization.” (Quote via Billboard report.)
Levy claims that Dylan and Universal Music failed to “pay Levy’s estate its rightful portion of the proceeds from the catalog sale for the songs he co-wrote with Dylan. She says this breaches a 1975 deal that gave Levy 35% ‘of any and all income earned by the compositions,’ claiming this should include 35% of those songs’ worth as part of the Universal sale.”
The Billboard report suggests that Dylan’s lawyers will argue that Levy’s lack of ownership of the songs excludes him from profiting from their sale, “saying Levy was hired to help write the songs and then promised a cut of their royalties — and their royalties alone.” Meanwhile, Levy and her team will argue that their original agreement entitles Levy to any profit from the songs, meaning the sale as well.
For more information on the lawsuit, read the full Billboard report here.