25 November 2015Copyright

Cayman loses out in Bob Marley copyright dispute

The English Court of Appeal has ruled that record label Cayman Music does not own the copyright to 13 songs comp osed by musician Bob Marley, including the hit “No Woman, No Cry”.

Lord Justice Kitchin was joined by Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones in ruling that the 13 songs were part of a 1992 agreement in which Cayman Music transferred the rights to Island Records.

The decision, handed down on November 18, upholds last year’s ruling from the English High Court.

The dispute stems from a publishing deal agreed by Bob Marley and Cayman Music in 1973. The deal meant Cayman owned copyright to his songs and could collect royalties.

Between 1973 and 1976 Marley wrote 13 songs, including “No Woman, No Cry”, but named his friends and associates as the authors.

This, according to the judgment, was a “misattribution ploy” in order to circumvent the contract with Cayman. Marley said he made this move because he had not received royalties from previous record deals.

Marley died in 1981.

In 1992, Marley’s estate along with Island Records agreed to buy the copyright to Marley’s work from Cayman Music..

But Cayman Music subsequently claimed that the agreement did not cover the 13  songs because they were misattributed and that Blue Mountain Music, a subsidiary of Island Records, had been unfairly profiting from the copyright to the works since 1992.

Blue Mountain Music has collected royalties from the 13 works and was named as a defendant in the case.

Last year, the English High Court said that the ownership of the copyright to the songs did originally belong to Cayman Music but was transferred to Island Records as part of the 1992 agreement.

Affirming the ruling, Kitchin wrote: “In my judgment it is therefore clear that the works were compositions within the meaning of the March 1992 agreement because they did belong to Cayman ... It follows that the rights in these songs were transferred to Island Records under the terms of the 1992 agreement.”

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