Image: Roger Miller
Roger Miller, shown here in 1987, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995, three years after his death.
updated 3/22/2010 6:39:02 PM ET 2010-03-22T22:39:02

The widow of country music legend Roger Miller has won a protracted legal battle over the rights to some of his biggest hits, including "King of the Road."

A federal judge ruled last week that Mary Miller and Roger Miller Music, Inc. own the copyrights to the songs the artist published in 1964. Those songs also include: "Dang Me," "Chug-A-Lug and "You can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd."

U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes also in said in a written order Thursday that the widow and the company are entitled to about $900,000 for royalties they should have received.

Miller died from cancer in 1992 at the age of 56. "King of the Road" was his biggest hit, topping both the country and pop charts. He also received critical acclaim for acting in and writing the lyrics and music to the Tony-award winning Broadway musical "Big River."

"We're thrilled," John Griffin, an attorney who represented the widow, said of the judge's decision. "It's been a long time coming."

Mary Miller and Roger Miller Music sued Sony/ATV Publishing in 2004 claiming that the right of renewal of the original copyrights for songs from 1958-64 went to her. At the time of Miller's death, copyrights expired after 28 years and had to be renewed.

The district court ruled in July of 2005 in that Sony owned the renewal copyrights to Miller's 1958-1963 songs and owned an implied right to the songs in 1964. The widow appealed the ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appellate court ruled that Sony owned the rights to the songs from 1958-63, but asked the lower court to consider whether the publisher held the rights to the 1964 songs.

The widow maintained that she had a right to the songs from 1964 because her husband didn't live to the beginning of the copyright renewal period. Had he not died in 1992, Griffin said, Sony would have the right to the songs of 1964.

Roger Miller was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995, three years after his death.

Calls to Sony and one of its lawyers were not immediately returned Monday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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