The writing credits and ownership of the classic Village People recorded track YMCA have been amended to just two writers: Since the song appeared in 1977, “YMCA” has always had three listed authors– Jacques Morali, Victor Willis, and Henry Bololo. But now after a two week jury trial in San Diego federal district court, Bololo was removed from the copyright. Willis now shares “YMCA” 50-50 with Morali. Attorney Brian Caplan, who handles many intellectual property cases, represented Willis, an original member of the Village People. In addition to “YMCA,” Willis regained half ownership in eleven other songs.
For almost 40 years Bololo maintained that “YMCA” was one of several French songs he repurposed. But after two weeks of testimony, a jury decided that Morali wrote the music and Willis penned the now famous lyrics.
Willis first brought action over the Village People copyrights back in 2011. There were two elements to his dispute. First, whether or not Willis could use the so called ‘termination right’, added to US copyright law in the 1970s and now relevant, to reclaim control of copyrights he had previously assigned to the company behind the Village People franchise.In this he succeded and this is the second part of the action = determining what “slice” of songs like ‘YMCA’ did Willis actually own?