media law

Media Law: Why Duran Duran Lost Their Copyright Suit

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Duran Duran once sang that they won’t cry for yesterday, but a contract signed in their past has cost them copyrights on their own material in the present, and seemingly forever.

Recently the famous band lost a High Court ruling in which it sought to reclaim the US rights to some of its most famous songs. The band was basing its argument on US copyright laws which return call for a reversion of copyright after 35 years.

However, media law was against them in this instance and this blog post explains why and how it came to be.

Media Law: A Win For Sony

The copyright has belonged and still does belong to Gloucester Place Music, a subsidiary of EMI Music Publishing, which is a smaller part of US giant Sony. The corporate lawyers successfully argued that English media law on contracts overrule the American mandates.

“We are shocked that English contract law is being used to overturn artists’ rights in another territory,” said founder member Nick Rhodes.

Gloucester released a statement saying it was “gratified by the court’s decision.”’

The ruling means Sony ultimately still controls songs from four albums including the band’s biggest hits such as “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “A View to a Kill”.

The US copyright law gives artists the chance to cancel a copyright after 35 years, basically intended to give artists the opportunity to make some money off their own work late in life if they’ve signed it away early on.

But because Duran Duran’s original contract was with Sony’s UK subsidiary, the rights do not reset, the high court ruled.

“This has not been about seeking to challenge the U.S. laws on copyright terminations but simply a contractual issue in the jurisdiction of the UK courts to clarify the parties’ rights on various songs,” the company said in a statement.

As Charlotte Lister from IP Tech Blog points out, it explains the need for foreign law advice on copyrights and IP issues.

Media Law: Duran Duran Disappointed Disappointed

Band lead singer Simon Le Bon called the decision, “old fashioned, ugly, imperialist, corporate greed”. The band has been together since 1978, has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and had 14 singles reach the top 10 in the UK. The band’s most recent album debuted in 2013.

It’s unfortunate what has happened to Duran Duran. Any business, musician, or artist must get legal advice on intellectual property issues. This is the only way to guarantee that your copyrights won’t be infringed on and that your livelihood is protected.

If you want to get a free quote and speak to a qualified lawyer about any media law issues then click the image below.

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