A British composer, who claims four of his arrangements were released on CD without his approval and without his being recognized as the author, has launched a High Court battle for up to £50,000 ($8
LONDON--A British composer, who claims four of his arrangements were released on CD without his approval and without his being recognized as the author, has launched a High Court battle for up to £50,000 ($88,165).
The court action was initiated by Beckenham, England-based baroque music expert Lionel Sawkins, a composer and editor known for his adaptations of works by French composer Michel-Richard De Lalande.
Sawkins says British classical label Hyperion Records infringed his copyright by releasing a CD containing four De Lalande arrangements he recorded in October 2001.
The case centers on his scores for arrangements of De Lalande's works "Te Deum Laudamus," "Sacris Solemniis," "Venite, Exultemus" and "La Grande Piéce Royale."
Sawkins claims that in 2001, he discussed with Ex Cathedra Ltd, a choir and orchestra, plans for them to hold concerts in Birmingham and London using his scores, with a recording to be released on CD by Hyperion.
However, he claims that Hyperion never agreed to his contract terms relating to his ownership of the copyright in the works and restrictions upon their use, and that the agreement was never signed.
Nevertheless, he says that in October 2001, a recording of the four pieces was made by Hyperion and released o the CD "Music for the Sun King" on sale in the U.K. and throughout the world.
He says no permission was granted for the publishers to reproduce the works, and that Hyperion has infringed his copyright in them. He says that the CD does not identify him as the author.
His attorney, Andrew Norris, told the judge, Mr. Justice Patten: "Hyperion has acted in flagrant disregard of Dr Sawkins' rights."
Sawkins claims his four scores were not reproduced from existing published scores, but were created through extensive musicological research of a variety of manuscript and printed sources, earlier 18th Century printed editions and other performances of De Lalande's musical works.
He claims to have added orchestral parts himself, to have adapted and modernized the notation, set the underlay to the revised vocal parts and restored corrupted parts of the music.
Hyperion disputes Sawkins' copyright claim, arguing that although he may have expended a considerable amount of effort in arranging the score, it was not the sort of effort that could be protected by copyright as it lacked the critical requirement of originality. Hyperion says Sawkins has not significantly altered the works in a way which would give rise to a new copyright.
Hyperion's counsel, Jacqueline Reid, in written submissions before the court, said that Sawkins' argument that he was entitled to copyright as he had pieced the scores together from a range of sources was "fallacious."
She said: "Take, as an example, a jigsaw puzzle of the Mona Lisa. Assume that the original copy of the Mona Lisa cannot be found, and that a jigsaw puzzle depicting the work does exist but has not been completed. Is the person who puts together the puzzle entitled to copyright in the artistic work, the Mona Lisa, which is reproduced in the completed puzzle? The answer, it is submitted, is clearly no."
Sawkins is seeking £15,000-£50,000 in damages, plus interest, an injunction barring further sale of the CD, and an order that all existing copies be handed over to him or destroyed.