Bob Dylan Wins Lawsuit Filed by Desire Co-Writer’s Estate

By Matthew Ismael Ruiz

Bob Dylan has won a judgement in the lawsuit filed by the estate for Jacques Levy in January that had claimed ownership over 35 percent of the songs Levy and Dylan wrote together. In documents viewed by Pitchfork, Judge Barry Ostrager of the Supreme Court of New York ruled that the agreement signed between Dylan and Levy in 1975 made it clear that Levy did not have ownership of the material, and that “Levy’s compensation rights are defined and expressly limited by the terms of the Agreement.” Dylan’s attorney Orin Snyder said in a statement that they were “pleased” with the decision. 

Levy, co-wrote songs from Dylan’s 1976 album Desire (including “Hurricane” and “Isis”). The lawsuit was seeking $7.25 million. Dylan sold the music publishing rights of his entire songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing in December 2020, reportedly for more than $300 million. Levy’s widow Claudia then filed the lawsuit the next month, asserting that the estate was entitled to a portion of Dylan’s profits from the sale of the 10 songs in the catalog Jacques Levy helped write. At the time the suit was filed, Snyder said in a statement that the “lawsuit is a sad attempt to unfairly profit off of the recent catalog sale.” 

Dylan recently announced the 16th volume of his long-running Bootleg Series called Springtime in New York, focusing on Dylan’s work from 1980 to 1985. Earlier this month, he streamed Shadow Kingdom, featuring “renditions of songs from his extensive and renowned body of work created especially for this event.” The Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma—containing more than 100,000 artifacts spanning Dylan’s career—will open in May 2022

Read “Bob Dylan Recasts His Old Selves in Ghostly Concert Film Shadow Kingdom” on the Pitch.