In the late 1970s, Victor Willis made history as the lead singer in the Village People, one of the world’s most successful disco-music groups. On Monday, Willis made history in a far more dramatic way, when a Southern California judge ruled against two music publishing companies and in favor of Willis’ right to reclaim at least partial ownership of the copyrights to “Y.M.C.A.,” “Macho Man,” “In the Navy” and 30 other songs he co-wrote for the Village People.
Monday’s ruling, while likely to be appealed, is expected to have significant implications for the struggling music industry. This holds especially true since such legendary artists as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and former San Diegan Tom Waits all have similar legal claims pending. Other artists, from Bruce Springsteen to The Eagles — whose lead guitarist, Joe Walsh, is a former Encinitas resident — are among those who could also eventually benefit from Monday’s ruling.