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Appeals court rules against Roger Miller's widow

Wednesday - 2/22/2012, 3:15pm  ET

SHEILA BURKE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The widow of country music legend Roger Miller doesn't own the rights to some of his biggest hits, including "King of the Road," a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Sony/ATV Music Publishing owns the renewal copyrights to the songs the artist published in 1964. Federal courts have already ruled that Sony owns the rights to Miller's songs that were published from 1958 to 1963.

In addition to "King of the Road," the songs include for "Dang Me," `'Chug-A-Lug" and "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd." The decision struck down a lower court's ruling in widow Mary Miller's favor that awarded her a little more than $900,000 in damages.

It's not clear whether she will appeal. A call to her attorney was not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Sony said the company was pleased with the court's decision, which enable enables Sony to continue to represent the catalog of the iconic songwriter.

Roger Miller died in 1992 after a battle with cancer. He was 56. "King of the Road" was his biggest hit, but he also received critical acclaim for writing the music and acting in the Tony-Award winning Broadway musical "Big River."

The singer left a will that stated that his widow was entitled to the rights to his work. But before he died he had assigned copyrights to his music to Sony, and in the months before his death, the publishing giant applied to renew the copyrights.

The widow, who has been in a protracted legal battle with the publishing giant, had argued that she was entitled to the rights to the songs because her husband died before the copyrights assigned to Sony were renewed.

But the appeals court said Sony owns the rights because Roger Miller had assigned rights to the company at the time applications were made to renew the copyrights.

Roger Miller was inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame in 1995.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)