Duran Duran has commenced action in the High Court against Sony/ ATV owned EMI Music Publishing.
Written by Samuel O'Toole on 02 December 2016« Return to Reading Room
The band is seeking to reclaim their copyrights in songs in their early albums, the action is based upon copyright reversion.
Reversion is a part of American copyright law; allowing songwriters that have assigned their works to a third party to reclaim the copyrights following a 35 year period. The reversion right stems from a 1978 law, as this is 38 years ago the limits and applications of the right are still being tested.
This is where Duran Duran comes in, as required the band has put the publishers on notice of the American reversion rights in their first three albums and the James Bond theme ‘A View To A Kill’. However, the publishers have disputed the claim, arguing that under Duran Duran’s English contract there is not an option to reclaim the copyrights under the American reversion right.
Ian Mill QC, on behalf of the publishers, has stated that “My clients entered into contracts and agreed to pay these artistes sums of money...in return for which the artistes promised to give them rights to exploit, subject to the payment of those sums, for the full term of copyright”.
Michael Block QC, representing Duran Duran, has labelled efforts by the publisher to block the band from exercising their reversion rights as “shameful”. Explaining that this is more than a simple contractual dispute, this case could set a dangerous precedent.
As many other British songwriters are likely to be on a similar publishing contract as Duran Duran, this case is one that Lawdit will be listening to with all ears.
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