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article imageJimi Hendrix, posthumously, wins UK copyright court battle

By Earl Dittman     Sep 10, 2014 in Music
After a lengthy legal battle over the unauthorized release of a live 1969 Stockholm, Sweden performance by Jimi, an English court affirmed that Experience Hendrix, the late guitar icon's estate, holds the true copyright to Hendrix's music.
Recently, an English High Court struck out the claims of Lawrence Miller (of Purple Haze Records Ltd.) disputing Experience Hendrix’s ownership of the copyright and performer’s rights in various Jimi Hendrix recordings. The ruling reaffirmed Experience Hendrix’s title to the copyright and the performer’s rights in the recordings and disallowed attempts by Mr. Miller to re-litigate issues regarding the rights in Jimi Hendrix recordings owned by Experience Hendrix, the Hendrix family music company based in Seattle, Washington.
In court papers filed in British court in January 2005, the claimant, Experience Hendrix LLC, brought legal action against the defendants, Lawrence Miller and Purple Haze Records Ltd, declaring:
"This the claimant’s application for summary judgment under CPR 24.2 on its claim for infringement of performer’s rights in performances given by the late Jimi Hendrix at the Konserthuset Stockholm Sweden on 9th January 1969 ('The Stockholm Performances'). Although there is no formal admission by the defendants on the pleadings that the Stockholm Performances took place, the proposition that the claimant will be unable to prove that they did is fanciful. They took the form of performances given in two sets by Jimi Hendrix performing together with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding as 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience.' A sound recording and/or film and sound recording of the Stockholm Performances was made by a Swedish broadcasting organization."
Jimi Hendrix live at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967
Jimi Hendrix live at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967
Experience Hendrix
At the time of the recording, UK legislation did not protect performers unless the recording itself was unauthorized – performers’ rights in their present form were only introduced in the UK in 1998. However, the High Court found in its summary judgment that later legislation could be applied retrospectively.
Mr. Miller sought to argue that a confirmatory copyright assignment entered into by the UK administrator of Jimi Hendrix’s estate had been forged and, thus the copyright in certain sound recordings had not been validly assigned to Experience Hendrix. Mr. Miller also sought to use the hearing as a forum to raise arguments which had been litigated and decided in Experience Hendrix’s favor in two previous actions. The High Court rejected Mr. Miller’s claims and awarded Experience Hendrix summary judgment. The Court said that Mr. Miller had provided no evidence at all to rebut the contemporaneous correspondence that clearly demonstrated that the copyright assignment was genuine and had not been forged. The Court said:
“…I am satisfied that there is no real prospect of the claimant establishing that Mr Hagood’s signature on the deed of assignment was forged. As [Counsel for Experience Hendrix] submits, the contemporaneous documentation is absolutely compelling in that regard.”
It became apparent during the hearing that the latest claim by Mr. Miller was a poorly disguised attempt to re-litigate claims that had been thrown out by the High Court and the Court of Appeal many years ago. The High Court was concerned by Mr Miller’s course of conduct and stated in its judgment:
“On the application for a civil restraint order, I am entirely satisfied, for the reason I gave in my substantive judgment, that both claims are totally without merit; and my order should record that. With considerable reluctance, because I have every reason to accept [Counsel for Experience Hendrix’s] submission, supported by Mr. Miller’s own assertions, that he will seek to bring fresh claims against the defendants and related individuals, had I had the jurisdiction to do so I would have made an extended civil restraint order against Mr. Miller to prevent him from bringing such further claims…”
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Experience Hendrix
The Court’s decision conclusively affirmed Experience Hendrix’s rights and put an end to Mr. Miller’s spurious claims.
More about Jimi hendrix, Experience hendrix, Lawrence Miller, British high Court, copyright battle