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Commercial Contracts & Intellectual property & Intellectual property disputes

Never mind the ********. Here’s the lawyers

Howard Ricklow comments on the dispute between the members of the Sex Pistols regarding Danny Boyle’s new TV series.

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Whilst band disputes in the music industry are nothing new (and almost guaranteed!) the legal battle amongst members of the Sex Pistols in the High Court in London is a highly unusual one.

It concerns the licensing of some of their songs for a new Danny Boyle TV series, “Pistol”. Whilst the other band members (and the estate in the case of the deceased Sid Vicious) are all willing to approve the necessary licences, John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, has said he is not willing to approve the licences unless there is a court order for him to do so.

The other band members’ lawyer claims that the Sex Pistols signed a band agreement in in 1998 under which decisions regarding the granting of licences would be made by a majority rather than requiring unanimity.

The position under English copyright law is that when there are joint owners of copyright in a composition all the writers must agree to the exploitation of the composition, failing which it may not be licensed.

It will be interesting to hear precisely what the 1998 agreement says and why Lydon’s legal team think that it may not be binding on him.

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