5 September 2018Copyright

Rod Stewart targeted in concert image copyright suit

British singer Rod Stewart did not have permission to use a photograph of him with a former girlfriend as a stage backdrop, according to a copyright complaint filed in the UK.

The suit was filed at Chelmsford County Court, according to a BBC report on Friday, August 31.

Julia McLellan has sued the singer for £9,999.99 ($12,798) on behalf of McLellans agency, a business run by her and her husband.

She claimed that she approached Stewart’s lawyers to obtain a fee to cover the image’s use in 2015, but her request was refused.

The picture at the centre of the dispute was taken in the 1960s, but was first published at BBC2’s “ Live in Hyde Park: A Festival in a Day” concert in London in 2015.

The photograph was taken by a former friend of Stewart, but McLellan said that she acquired the copyright to the image in 2004.

It is unclear how McLellan obtained the copyright, or whether it is registered.

She explained that Stewart’s friend had given the singer a copy of the photograph as a personal keepsake, but “that’s very different to using it commercially”.

McLellan claimed that if she is successful in the dispute, she will split the damages equally with the friend who took the photograph.

In response to the allegations, Stewart has argued that the photographer’s claim is for an “absurd” level of damages.

He claimed that the image’s use was “totally innocent, brief and incidental”. The photograph was one of hundreds used, and only appeared for eight seconds, according to Stewart.

Although District Judge Stephen Hodge has sent the matter to trial, he reportedly urged the parties to mediate as the dispute has “tears written all over it”.

A date has yet to be set for the next hearing in the dispute.

It has not been made clear who the former girlfriend in the photograph is. Stewart has been romantically linked to a number of women during his time in the public eye and has been married three times.

In 2013, Stewart made chart history as his album reached the number one spot in the UK charts, 34 years after his last number one album.

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