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Eric Clapton ‘Does Not Intend’ to Collect Money from German Widow in Bootleg CD Case

After facing criticism online, the musician's management team says Clapton won't be pursuing the amount he was awarded by a Düsseldorf court.

A German woman has been ordered to pay nearly $4,000 for attempting to sell a bootleg Eric Clapton CD on eBay, according to a report on the German website DW. But after facing widespread condemnation online, Clapton’s management team now says the musician won’t be pursuing what he’s owed.

The 55-year-old woman, identified in court documents as Gabriele P., claims she inherited the bootleg CD Eric Clapton – Live USA from the estate of her late husband, who purchased it at a department store in 1987. But after listing it for sale on eBay for €9.95 ($11.27), lawyers for Clapton issued an affidavit in Düsseldorf regional court stating the CD was illegal. The court eventually issued an injunction barring the woman from selling the CD online and ordering her to pay €3,400 ($3,852) in legal fees for both parties.

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But in a statement issued to Clapton’s online fan club on Wednesday (Dec. 22) — designed to address what it says are “widespread and often misleading press reports” about the case — Clapton’s management says neither the musician nor his record company will attempt to collect.

“When the full facts of this particular case came to light and it was clear the individual is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target, Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the Court,” the statement reads. “Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.”

The statement makes a point of noting the rampant sales of illegal bootleg CDs in Germany, adding that lawyers for Clapton, as well as other artists and record companies, “have successfully pursued thousands of bootleg cases under routine copyright procedures” in the country over the past decade. It goes on to say that “it is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection, but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorized copies for sale,” and that “95%” of individual cases regarding Clapton bootlegs are resolved before going to court.

“This case could have been disposed of quickly at minimal cost, but unfortunately in response to the German lawyers’ first standard [cease-and-desist] letter, the individual’s reply included the line (translation): ‘feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands,’” the statement continues. “This triggered the next step in the standard legal procedures, and the Court then made the initial injunction order.”

Following the court injunction, the statement claims the woman appointed a lawyer to appeal the decision – and that she persisted even after the judge in the case encouraged her to withdraw it to save costs. The appeal ultimately failed, and the woman was ordered to pay the full amount.

With online condemnations of Clapton running rampant following reports of the injunction, the statement goes out of its way to distance the musician from the case, nothing that Clapton’s “lawyers and management team (rather than Eric personally) identifies if an item offered for sale is illegal, and a declaration confirming that is signed, but thereafter Eric Clapton is not involved in any individual cases.”

If the woman continues to offer the CD for sale, she faces a fine of €250,000 ($283,074) or six months in prison, according to DW.