Composer Wins British Court Case Against Hyperion

A composer who claimed that four of his arrangements were released on CD without his approval and without naming him as the author last week won a High Court claim for damages.

LONDON -- A composer who claimed that four of his arrangements were released on CD without his approval and without naming him as the author last week won a High Court claim for damages.

The judgment was in respect to three of the compositions.

Baroque music expert Dr. Lionel Sawkins of Beckenham, England, is known for his adaptations of works by French composer Michel-Richard De Lalande (1657-1726).

Sawkins sued British classical label Hyperion Records Ltd. in May, claiming it had breached his copyright by releasing a CD containing four De Lalande arrangements recorded in October 2001 (ELW, May 17).

The works in question were "Te Deum Laudamus," "Venite Exultemus," "Panis Angelicus" and "La Grande Piece Royale."

The judge, Mr. Justice Patten has ruled that in respect to three of the works, it was only Dr Sawkins' efforts in transposing the source material and, where necessary, correcting it, that rendered them playable.

He said: "These re-created passages are sufficient in themselves to create a separate copyright in favor of Dr. Sawkins in his edition of that work."

However, with respect to "Panis Angelicus," which is from the grand motet "Sacris Solemniis," he ruled that the scale of Sawkins' editorial interventions was not sufficient to create a new copyright.

During the legal procedures, Sawkins claimed that in 2001, he discussed with choir/orchestra Ex Cathedra Ltd. 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 claimed that Hyperion never agreed to his contract terms relating to t he use of his works, and that the agreement was never signed.

Nevertheless, he said that in October 2001, Hyperion released worldwide recordings of the four pieces as part of the CD "Music for the Sun King."

Damages will be assessed at a future hearing. The plaintiff is seeking damages of 15,000 pounds-50, 000 pounds ($27,300-$91,000), plus interest, an injunction barring further sale of the CD and an order that all existing copies be handed over to him or destroyed.
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