Eric Clapton’s management issues statement after winning bootleg CD lawsuit

"It is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection"

Eric Clapton’s management has issued a statement after the guitarist successfully sued a German woman last week for trying to sell a bootleg CD of one of his concerts on eBay.

As reported by DW, the defendant claimed she was unaware that she was committing copyright infringement by listing the album on the site for €9.95 (£8.45).

Clapton sent Düsseldorf regional court an affidavit stating that the recordings on the disc were illegal, which led to to the court’s initial decision in favour of the singer-songwriter.

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The woman appealed, claiming that her late husband had purchased the CD in 1987 at a well-known department store. Her appeal was rejected, with the judge ruling that it was irrelevant that she did not buy the album herself.

The court has now asked the woman to pay the legal fees of both parties, which is around €3,400 in total (£2,889). If she continues to offer the CD for sale, she faces a fine of €250,000 (£212,353) or six months in prison.

Taking issue with how the story was framed in the media, Clapton’s management has now issued a statement offering their own context on the lawsuit.

“Given the widespread and often misleading press reports about a recent bootleg case involving a woman in Germany, the following provides clarification to set the record straight,” the statement begins (via Stereogum).

“Germany is one of several countries where sales of unauthorised and usually poor-quality illegal bootleg CDs are rife, which harms both the industry and purchasers of inferior product. Over a period of more than 10 years the German lawyers appointed by Eric Clapton, and a significant number of other well-known artists and record companies, have successfully pursued thousands of bootleg cases under routine copyright procedures.

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton. CREDIT: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.

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“It is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection, but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorised copies for sale. In the case of an individual selling unauthorised items from a personal collection, if following receipt of a ‘cease and desist’ letter the offending items are withdrawn, any costs would be minimal, or might be waived.

“Eric 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, and 95% of the cases are resolved before going to Court.”

Clapton’s management then explained that they had reached out to the woman prior to any lawsuit, issuing her with a cease and desist, but according to them she declined to comply.

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

“If the individual had complied with the initial letter the costs would have been minimal. Had she explained at the outset the full facts in a simple phone call or letter to the lawyers, any claim might, have been waived, and costs avoided.

“However, the individual appointed a lawyer who appealed the injunction decision. The Judge encouraged the individual to withdraw the appeal to save costs, but she proceeded. The appeal failed and she was ordered to pay the costs of the Court and all of the parties.”

The statement concluded: “However, 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. Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.”

Meanwhile, Eric Clapton has faced backlash over the course of the coronavirus pandemic due to his anti-vaccine views and criticisms of lockdown measures. Back in August, he shared the apparent anti-vax protest song ‘This Has Gotta Stop’.

I can’t take this B.S. any longer/ It’s gone far enough/ You wanna claim my soul, you’ll have to come and break down this door,” Clapton sings on the track before touching on his “disastrous” reaction to the jab.

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