A record company that released an album of Bruce Springsteen's early recordings without his permission has lost its bid to keep copyright control over the songs and has been ordered to destroy its rec

A record company that released an album of Bruce Springsteen's early recordings without his permission has lost its bid to keep copyright control over the songs and has been ordered to destroy its recordings. A federal judge in Newark, N.J., issued the ruling in dismissing a lawsuit brought by Pony Express Records against Springsteen. The artist and Pony Express Records had filed competing claims for copyright control.

U.S. District Judge Harold Ackerman ruled on Friday that Springsteen retained the copyright for the songs in question, which include "Seaside Bar Song," "War Nurse," and "Prodigal Son." In his decision, Ackerman cited a British ruling involving the album "Before the Fame" that said Springsteen owns the copyright to the recordings.

In the 1998 British case against Masquerade Music, which licensed the music from Pony Express, Springsteen argued that he regained ownership of the recordings after a U.S. court case in 1977. That case began when Springsteen sued former manager Mike Appel for fraud, undue influence, and breach of trust, to which Appel filed a countersuit that legally kept the artist out of a recording studio for nine months. They eventually settled out of court, with Springsteen gaining back the rights to his music

Steven Hayes, a lawyer for Springsteen, said Pony Express Records is forbidden from selling any more copies of "Before the Fame," either in the U.S. or abroad. A 20-track version of the disc had been available from various online retailers, while a 13-track version was for sale via behindthefame.com, which at deadline was not an active site. A motion from Springsteen to recover costs and damages is still pending.

According to court documents, former Springsteen manager James Cretecos sold the rights to the songs to a company that granted Pony Express Records the licensing agreement. Cretecos represented Springsteen in the early 1970s. Frank J. Cozzarelli, Cretecos' lawyer, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.


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