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‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ namesake copyright dispute solved

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 24 May 2019

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A dispute that has been rolling on for 22 years has finally come to an end.

One of the biggest songs on the 90’s, The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony is at the top of many people’s hit list.

However, the song’s writer Richard Ashcroft has been locked into a copyright battle for over 20 years and has not been receiving royalties for the song until now.

The issue began in 1997 when the song was released. The song samples an orchestral version of the Stones hit ‘The Last Time’.

Ashcroft sought permission to use the song and was granted a license to use a five note segment in exchange for half of the royalties by the Stone manager Allen Klein.

However, when the song was complete Klein argued that the Verve had breached the agreement and used more than the allowed amount of the song.

This sparked a copyright infringement claim which resulted in all royalties from the song, including any award recognition, going to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

However, this year during his speech at the Ivor Novello Awards, Richard Ashcroft announced that all the rights have been signed back over to him after discussions with Jagger, Richards and the Stones new manager.  He thanked the two musicians and highlighted that he never had any personal issues with them, but the situation was due to Klein.

The Rolling Stones also acknowledged this in a statement which read that Ashcroft has been denied the rights to ‘one of his most iconic songs, including the lyrical content" for more than two decades.’.

In a world where copyright keeps casting a cloud, a sunshine situation has arisen.

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