Los Angeles, CA – William Saroyan, the Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning author and screenwriter, co-wrote “Come On-A My House” with his cousin Ross Bagdasarian, the creator of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”
Saroyan’s son and sole heir, Aram, alleges ownership of fifty percent of the copyright in the song by his 2006 termination – under 17 U.S.C. 304(c) – of an earlier transfer from his father to
Bagdasarian, whose children own the other fifty percent. Plaintiff then attempted to enter into a music publishing administration agreement with Sony, which would have provided an advance of $250,000 to Plaintiff. Defendant Stanford University allegedly learned of the pending agreement and asserted its rights in Saroyan’s copyrights, filing a document with the U.S. Copyright Office “rejecting and repudiating Plaintiff’s notices of termination.” Stanford claims that Saroyan, who died in 1981, willed all of his copyrights to the Saroyan Foundation and, in 1996, the Foundation transferred the copyrights to Stanford.
Plaintiff, however, contends that the transfer to Stanford did not include the song because Saroyan did not have ownership interest in the song at his death. The Bagdasarian heirs have placed all royalties earned since 2006 into escrow until their cousin Aram resolves this dispute. The case is Aram Saroyan v. Stanford University, et al., CV10-01844 DDP (C.D. Cal. 2010).