Rock Band Boston Song Publisher Sues Over Copyrights

A publisher of hit songs by the 1970s rock band Boston, including “More Than a Feeling” and “Don’t Look Back,” sued the group’s leader and songwriter, Tom Scholz, to prevent the termination of his copyrights.

Paul Ahern, the plaintiff, said that Scholz assigned copyrights to the songs he wrote in a 1975 agreement. He claimed that in January Scholz said he planned to terminate those rights, according to a filing today in federal court in New York.

The threat to end the copyrights “casts a pall on the assets of the compositions, diminishes their value and complicates the ability of plaintiffs Next Decade and Ahern to commercially exploit them,” his lawyers said in the complaint.

Scholz, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 grants him the authority to terminate Ahern’s copyrights, according to the suit. Those rights would end in 2015.

“Tom Scholz filed to reclaim his copyrights, as many artists have done recently,” Craig Pinkus, his lawyer, said in an e-mail. “The lawsuit from Mr. Ahern apparently seeks to resolve those rights in court. Mr. Scholz is confident in his legal position.”

Ahern, a Florida resident whose publishing firm is Pure Songs, said he employed Scholz in 1975 to write the songs that were included on Boston’s first two albums. He seeks a judicial declaration that Scholz has no interest in the copyrights to those songs and that the notice of termination is invalid.

First Album

Boston recorded its first albums for Epic Records, a unit of Sony Corp. (6758)’s Sony Music Entertainment. The self-titled debut album sold 17 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and the single “More Than a Feeling” reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The second album, “Don’t Look Back,” sold 7 million copies, the RIAA reported, and the single peaked at number four.

The case is Ahern v. Scholz, 13-01812, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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