Pop group Duran Duran have said they are “outraged and saddened” at losing a High Court fight to reclaim US rights to some of their most famous songs.
The band which was the rave of the 1980s are unable to claim the U.S. rights to some of their most famous hits a UK court ruled citing English contract law.
After the verdict,founder member Nick Rhodes said: “We are shocked that English contract law is being used to overturn artists’ rights in another territory”.
The group had argued that US copyright laws should prevail in Britain. as well, gaving them the right to call for a reversion of copyright after 35 years.
The 35-year rule in the US gave artists from the late 1970s onwards a chance to escape those contracts and claim back ownership of their copyright.
Duran Duran on stage at the 2016 Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco, Calif. Simon Le Bon (l), John Taylor, and Dom Brown (r)
British pop group Duran Duran had the best moments in the 1980’s and 1990’s
The record industry feared it would be a calamity given how lucrative back catalogues have been to them over the years. American artistes have successfully sought the copyright reversion in the past, include as Billy Joel, Devo and Blondie.
The group had sought to terminate the grant to Gloucester Place Music Ltd, part of EMI Music Publishing, of US copyrights in their first three albums.
The albums – Duran Duran, Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger – contained some of the band’s biggest hits, among them Hungry Like the Wolf and The Reflex.
A View to a Kill, the theme song to the 1985 James Bond film of that name, was among other songs the band had sought to reclaim.
But lawyers for Gloucester Place Music Ltd which is owned by US business Sony/ATV, successfully argued that English laws of contract stopped them from doing so.
At a hearing in London in November, attorneys for Gloucester Place asked the courts to rule that Duran Duran’s members had breached English contracts law by seeking to exercise their reversion rights in 2014.
On Friday, Judge Arnold ruled in favor of Gloucester Place while observing: “Not without hesitation, I have come to the conclusion that the [Gloucester Place] interpretation of the agreements is the correct one,” he said on Friday.
“I conclude that [the plaintiffs] have acted in breach of the agreements by serving the notices, or, where they have not yet taken effect, will do so if they are not withdrawn.”
Duran Duran, iconic by the 1990’s, have just lost the battle to maintain US copyright on their memorable hit songs. The band say they are hugely disappointed
According to the judge, the language of the copyright agreements leave no ambiguity. It “would have conveyed to a reasonable person… that the parties’ intention was that the ‘entire copyrights’ in the compositions should vest, and remain vested, in the claimant (Gloucester Place) for the ‘full term’ of the copyrights.”
Hits like “Rio”, “Girls on Film” and the James Bond theme song, “A View to a Kill”, will all remain copyrighted by Gloucester Place Music, which is owned by Sony, rather than by the men who created them, in accordance the ruling of the English court, Friday.
Litigants: Founder member Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor were all involved in the legal action
Reacting to the verdict, the group’s founder Nick Rhodes said the band was “shocked,” “saddened” and “outraged” that their rights were being overturned.
“We signed a publishing agreement as unsuspecting teenagers, over three decades ago, when just starting out and when we knew no better,” Rhodes told the BBC.
“This gives wealthy publishing companies carte blanche to take advantage of the songwriters who built their fortune over many years, and strips songwriters of their right to rebalance this reward,” he continued.
Rhodes added that the decision set a “very bad precedent” for fellow songwriters.
Duran Duran was formed in the late 1970s by Rhodes and John Taylor.
The band went on to win countless awards such as two Grammys, two Brit Awards and the MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in 2003.