THE TERM OF COPYRIGHT APPLIED TO DURAN DURAN'S CASE. PART I: THE CASE.


This brief series of posts will discuss a recent legal case concerning the recovery of copyright after having transferred them through the signing of a publishing agreement. This first part will present the recent case in which British band Duran Duran has been involved. Fragments from the original court's decision will be included to support key arguments.

In the period from 1980 to 1983 Duran Duran entered a number of publishing agreements with Gloucester Place Music (at the time Tritec Music Ltd.). As part of these agreements, the latter was assigned the copyright over the group’s compositions. The publisher would hold the rights to those compositions for the complete term of the copyrights (1).

Willing to recover the license of copyright over their compositions in the US territory, Duran Duran turned to the US Copyright Act, which states it is possible to fulfill such purpose 35 years after the transfer of rights. Their request, however, was taken by Gloucester Place Music as a breach of the agreement. The publisher decided to sue the band as explained in the case’s resolution:

Under the section 203(a)(4) of the US Copyright Act (enacted October 19, 1976) the grant of a transfer or license of copyright or of any right under a copyright, executed by the author on or after January 1, 1978, otherwise than by will, is subject to termination at any time during a period of five years beginning at the end of thirty-five years from the date of execution of the grant. The termination shall be effected by serving an advance notice in writing. Under this provision, members of the group Duran Duran registered a request, in 2014, for the reversion of their eligible copyrights in America. Gloucester Place Music considered they had acted in breach of the signed greements by serving those notices under section 203 of the United States Copyright Act 1976, or will be in breach if the Notices were not withdrawn, and asked for such a declaration by the court (1).

(1)Gloucester Place Music Ltd v Le Bon & Ors [2016] 3091 (Ch) (England and Wales High Court). Available from: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2016/3091.html

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