The lead plaintiff in the case, Gloria Coots Baldwin, lives in Palm Beach County, Milian said.
The only substantive part of Marra's ruling is that he found the heirs were within their rights to try to break the 1981 agreement. The song's copyright was renewed in 1976 for 47 years and extended again in 1998 to 67 years.
"As a threshold matter, the court finds that the controversy between plaintiffs and defendant is sufficiently ripe," Marra wrote.
Donald S. Zakarin, a partner at Pryor Cashman who represented EMI, said its 1981 agreement with the authors and heirs barred them from terminating EMI's U.S. ownership of the copyright. Plaintiffs claimed the right to terminate in either 2016 or 2021.
"The song makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and it remains copyrighted until at least 2029 under current law," he said. "The composition is incredibly valuable for the plaintiffs, who earn significant royalties from the song, as well as for EMI, which owns copyright."
Both sides, though, couldn't help but wonder about the timeliness of Marra's decision, coming two weeks before Christmas.
Zakarin said people in his office think Marra released the decision on purpose at Christmastime, but the lawyer said, "I think it was purely serendipitous."
Milian added, "I had a bet with all my partners it would be great if we got the ruling by Dec. 25."
But he adds the ruling was anticipated by the end of the year.
John Pacenti can be reached at (305) 347-6638.