Sony Music Entertainment Settles Years-Long Class-Action Lawsuit With New York Dolls’ David Johansen and More


In 2019, a group of musicians—led by David Johansen of New York Dolls, John Lyon, and Paul Collins—filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, seeking control of their master recordings. The parties have now reached a settlement agreement, court documents obtained by Pitchfork show. The terms of the settlement have not yet been made public.

When contacted by Pitchfork, an attorney for Sony Music Entertainment, Roy W. Arnold, offered no comment. Attorneys for the musicians have not responded to Pitchfork’s request for comment.

The musicians based their original complaint on a section of the Copyright Act of 1976 that offers artists the opportunity to terminate grants of copyright ownership 35 years after a recording’s initial release. In the complaint, the musicians alleged that Sony Music Entertainment was engaging in copyright infringement by refusing “to allow any recording artist to take over control of the sound recordings or enter into an agreement with a different label for the exploitation of recordings, after the effective date of termination.”