To some people, Yoko Ono will always be a controversial character in the life of the late Beatle John Lennon. Now, nearly 50 years after the release of Lennon's iconic “Imagine,” music publishers plan to name the Beatles legend’s widow as co-writer of the song.

During the National Music Publishers Association's Centennial annual meeting in New York on June 14, “Imagine” was honored with the Centennial Song Award. National Music Publishers Association CEO, David Israelite, stated that the process to add Ono to the song’s writing credits, while not yet confirmed, was already underway.

John Lennon

Lennon's Imagine album was released in 1971, and the title track was the best-selling single of his post-Beatles solo career. At Wednesday's gathering, a 1980 BBC interview with Lennon was played which showed the singer admitting that his wife was the co-writer on the song.

“Actually that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it - the lyric and the concept - came from Yoko,” Lennon said in the video. “But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of Grapefruit, her [poetry] book. There's a whole pile of pieces about ‘Imagine this’ and ‘Imagine that’”

Both Ono and son Sean Ono Lennon were in attendance to honor the song and receive the award, but they were not, it seems, aware that Yoko would receive a co-credit.

It’s probably a more important issue to music publishers themselves. Under US copyright law, “Imagine” was set to enter the public domain in 2050, 70 years after Lennon's death. Once Ono is credited as Lennon's co-writer, the song could remain in copyright for several more decades.

Yoko Ono is currently executive producing a movie on her life with John Lennon.