Sydney-based DJs Chris Kross and Pee Wee Ferris have been ordered to pay damages and costs totalling A$819,000 ($655,000) in the copyright infringement case against them, which concluded Friday (March 11).
The Federal Court in Sydney found that Kross (real name Chris Fraser-Smith) and Ferris (Peter Ferris) had in 2002 used unauthorized tracks on eight remix albums. The copyrights in the recordings had not been cleared by owners Sony Entertainment Australia, Universal Music Australia and Central Station Records & Tapes.
Fraser-Smith told the court that he had applied for permission for all the works used in the remixes, which were released through his Tower Records label. Ferris testified that he thought Fraser-Smith had gained clearance for the tracks he remixed.
Justice Peter Jacobsen accepted that the volume of infringements was not high. For instance, only five of the 29 tracks on the copyright-infringing “Hard Trance” compilation had not been cleared.
However, the judge said he was angered by the pair’s “cavalier” attitude to the case, which dragged out for two years. Jacobsen singled out Fraser-Smith’s varied attempts to hinder the case by demanding the labels provide proof of copyright for each infringed track.
“The outrageous conduct of Fraser-Smith and Tower in trying to force Universal and Central Station to grant licences shows a culture of contempt for copyright restrictions,” Jacobsen said. Fraser-Smith was also accused of making “outrageous and frightening threats” via text messages to former Universal Music Australia executive Grant Kearney and Central Station managing director Morgan Williams.
Fraser-Smith and Ferris were ordered to pay A$112,941.86 ($89,630) for infringements; $500,000 ($396,000) for their conduct; and costs of $205,998.58 ($163,480).