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Friday, 23 December 2005

HYPERION PAYS £££s


The IPKat is grateful to Graeme Fearon of Thring Townsend for pointing him in the direction of this story in the Guardian. Music company Hyperion has settled the costs following its dispute over copyright with Lionel Sawkins. Hyperion made use in one of its recordings of a edition of Lalonde’s Music for the Sun King which Sawkins had edited into a form that could be played by modern performers. Sawkins sued Hyperion for copyright infringement. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal found in Sawkins' favour, and came to the conclusion that Sawkins’ editing of what was a pre-existing work amounted to an original musical work.

Now it appears that Hyperion will have to pay costs in the region of £950,000 (pretty much equivalent to a year’s “music-making” budget). As well as its own costs and damages, this includes a hefty bill from Sawkins’ solicitors, Carter-Ruck. Sawkins’ costs were governed by an “uplift” agreement, by which, if he won, he would have to pay additional costs in order to subsidise the “no-win, no-fee” arrangement of other clients of the firm.

Various musical luminaries have condemned the costs bill, arguing that the future of a small music company should not rest on a misunderstanding on the company’s part about the scope of copyright law.

The IPKat says that ignorance of the law is no defence. However, he does think it quite harsh that a losing party should be made to subsidise the costs of cases lost by other clients of the winner’s solicitors, with whom the losing part has absolutely no connection.

1 comment:

Peter Groves said...

Hyperion pursued what must be one of the most ill-considered legal actions in the history of music, ifnot of copyright, and have only themselves to blame. Why on earth did they throw good money after bad on appealing what they should have seen was a hopeless case? It's not as if the law was unclear! Record companies live on their intellectual property (and don't they like to remind us!): so too do the likes of Lionel Sawkins. Had Hyperion done the decent thing at the outset, they could have got away with spending about one or two thousand rather than 950.

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