Country music legend Dwight Yoakam has filed suit against Warner Music Group in California federal court over music rights. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the suit claims that the record label refuses to accept how copyright law allows Yoakam to reclaim rights to his work.
Yoakam's filing seeks notices of termination, which are in accordance with Section 203 of the Copyright Act, a law enacted in the '70s which allows authors to cancel copyright grants and regain rights after a certain period of time. For newer works, the waiting period is 35 years.
Yoakam's suit states that Warner subsidiary Rhino wouldn't give him definitive word that he had successfully regained the rights to his work, specifically his recordings of "Honky Tonk Man" and "Miner's Prayer," after proposing new deal terms in the face of Yoakam's notice.
"The termination rights Congress gave to artists like Mr. Yoakam to gain control back over their intellectual property are essential rights that should not be interfered with or delayed," Yoakam's attorney, Richard Busch at King & Ballow, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "We did not want to have to file this lawsuit, but we were forced to so for all of the reasons set forth in detail in the Complaint."
Yoakam released his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. in 1986. Over his 30+ year career, he's scored hits such as "Honky Tonk Man," "Guitars, Cadillacs," "Fast as You," "Little Ways," "You're the One" and more.
In 2020, Yoakam announced that he married his longtime fiancee Emily Joyce. The couple welcomed their son, Dalton Loren Yoakam, last year.