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Smokey Robinson and ex-wife still fighting over song copyrights

With no new reports having been issued since the beginning of this month, our readers here in Los Angeles can safely assume that Smokey Robinson is still embroiled in some rather complicated litigation with his ex-wife this week. Their dispute centers around whether the songs Robinson wrote during their marriage should be considered community property or protected by copyright law. And as our readers will soon see, both sides have their own opinions about the matter.

According to Robinson, in his lawsuit against his ex-wife, after every song he wrote, he assigned copyrights to his music publisher Jobete Music Co. He contends that no part of the songs were ever written by his ex-wife and are therefore the intellectual property of Jobete. But when Robinson began recapturing the copyrights in 2012, his ex-wife filed a claim that said “she is entitled to half the publisher’s share and half the writer’s share” of royalty payments and interest from the songs under community property law.

Robinson disagrees though, pointing out that his ex-wife was already paid out for her share of the song’s royalties during their divorce and should have no further claim to his fortune. He also points out that under California law, he has the right to terminate and recapture the assigned copyrights and has done so per the law. These recaptured copyrights, Robinson says, should not be considered as part of the final 1986 divorce settlement as these copyrights were not in his possession at the time of the divorce.

As many of our readers can imagine, this would be an incredibly difficult case to handle without legal representation, especially because a person would have to contend with entertainment law as well as family law. The hope though is that this dispute can be settled in a timely manner and that both parties can move on from this dispute.

Source: The Courthouse News Service, “Smokey Robinson Says Copyright, not Community Property Law, Protects His Songs,” March 8, 2014

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