When it comes to compiling a list of the great songwriters of the past 50 years, Victor Willis’ name likely wouldn’t merit more than an asterisk.

Far better known as the cop in the novelty disco act the Village People, Willis is also remembered for a number of drug-related troubles in the early 2000s that nearly up-ended his post-Village People days.

Yet there he was this week, being mentioned in the same breath as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, after he won a court battle to claim at least a third of the copyrights for such songs as “Macho Man,” “Y.M.C.A.” and “In the Navy” that he co-wrote for his old group.

The former “Macho Man,” who says he has a new album titled “Solo Man” coming out in a few weeks, declined to say what kind of payday he expects Monday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Barry Moskowitz to bring him.

“But those songs, they gross millions a year, so it could be a significant thing,” he noted with a chuckle.

Willis was a musician-actor who, among other things, had appeared on Broadway in “The Wiz” when Jacques Moreli decided to cash in on the disco craze in 1977 by putting together a group made up of beefy, macho-looking guys dressed as a biker, a construction worker, a cop, a cowboy and an Indian chief.

Willis, who was the group’s lead singer, was soon dancing up a storm with his cohorts to catchy beats while disco balls glittered and music blared around the country and in Europe.

The Village People sold tens of millions of records in the 1970s, and Willis co-wrote all the big hits.

But he also signed away his copyrights to the songs for a cut of the profits that today ranges from 12 to 20 percent.

“I was very young and naive,” he said by phone from New York on Thursday. “I didn’t know at that point what I was going to be giving away. So If they put a contract in front of me, I signed it.”

He said he suspects many other young artists did as well, and he hopes his court victory this week will eventually benefit them, too.

When Congress updated federal copyright law in 1978, it allowed songwriters to reclaim such signed-away copyrights after 35 years.

Dead’s drummer working on memoir

Founding Grateful Dead member Bill Kreutzmann has a long, strange story to tell.

The drummer is working on a memoir scheduled to be published in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher announced Wednesday. The book will include reflections on his “deep bond” with the late Jerry Garcia and memories of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers.

Kreutzmann, who turned 66 this week, helped form the Dead in the mid-1960s along with Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Since Garcia’s death in 1995, Kreutzmann has been touring with his own bands and playing with a wide variety of musicians.

Ex-Miss USA avoids jail in DUI case

Rima Fakih, the first Arab-American to be crowned Miss USA, avoided jail during sentencing Wednesday in her Michigan drunken driving case, an experience she described as “very humbling.”

Judge William McConico put Fakih on six months of probation, ordered the former beauty queen to perform 20 hours of community service and said she must pay $600 in fines and costs. Fakih also must attend an alcohol safety class.

The 26-year-old pleaded no contest last month to driving while visibly impaired in Highland Park, an enclave of Detroit. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing. Fakih faced a maximum 93 days in jail.

Police said Fakih was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone and weaving in and out of traffic before they pulled her over, and officers found an open bottle of champagne behind the driver’s seat of the 2011 Jaguar.