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Duran Duran come undone over copyright

An interesting recent court concerns pop group Duran Duran who attempted in London’s High Court to regain copyright over early hits of the band that were subject to a 35 year old English publishing agreement that gave ownership rights to Sony/ATV.

The case concerned around three dozen early hits of the band, such as ‘Reflex’ (click to view above). 

Under English law, copyright lasts for 70 years from creation of the work, however, under US copyright law, artists can reclaim copyright after 35 years, and so it was the hope of Duran Duran that this may allow them to recover from Sony/ATV the US rights to these songs. 

The court, however,  found that the English publishing agreement still applied and under English contract law Sony/ATV was entitled to retain ownership for the full term of the copyright (70 years).  

After the case, the band themselves noted that they signed their publishing agreement as ‘unsuspecting teenagers’ when starting out in the music business and when 'knowing no better'. 

The case highlights the importance of putting in place proper contractual documentation on Day 1. A little bit of contractual review  upfront can avoid a mountain of hassle and cost years down the road. 

If you're an artist or a publisher and wish to ensure your agreements protect your rights, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Creative Artists Law.

You can read more about the case here:

This information is intended for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you do need legal advice, however, get in touch with us!


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