Bob Dylan sued for $9.9m NZD over publishing rights sale

News 22/01/2021

Jacques Levy's estate has sued Bob Dylan $9.9m from the $416m sale of his publishing rights.

The deal between Dylan and Universal Music Publishing was reported last month. In response, Levy's wife has launched a legal action saying that the estate was due millions for the songs the late collaborator co-wrote with Dylan in the '70s.

Levy, a theater producer, had spent several years writing songs with Roger McGuinn for the Byrds and solo projects when he first met Dylan. The duo then wrote seven songs together for the 1976 album 'Desire' including 'Hurricane', 'Isis' and 'Joey'. Levy also directed the Rolling Thunder Revue tour for Dylan.

In the lawsuit, Levy's wife and his publishing company stated that Dylan had "refused to remit … their rightful share of the revenue and/or income earned from the catalog sale with respect to the compositions." A legal representative for Dylan told Pitchfork that the lawsuit is a "sad attempt to unfairly profit off the recent catalogue sale".

"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."

Just before his death in 2004, Levy recalled how the collaboration came about, saying that Dylan liked his work when he wrote for McGuinn and said these "magic words" - "I'd like you to write some stuff for me."