Direct link Share on

The Court of Appeal has ruled that six Bob Marley songs, including “No Woman No Cry”, belong to the Island Records group.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that six Bob Marley songs, including “No Woman No Cry”, belong to the Island Records group.
 
The six songs were all written in the early 1970s, when Bob Marley had a publishing agreement with Cayman Music Inc (“CMI”) under which any songs he wrote were to belong to CMI.
 
In order to get around that agreement, he deliberately misattributed their authorship to various friends and associates, and then arranged for the copyright in them to be transferred to him. As a result, the rights were commonly believed to belong to him, and later (after his death in 1981) his estate (“the Estate”).
 
Between 1988 and 1992, the Island Records group bought various rights to Bob Marley’s songs both from CMI and from the Estate. The six songs were expressly mentioned in its agreement with the Estate.
 
By the time of these proceedings, however, it was common ground that the songs had never belonged to the Estate, because they had been written by Bob Marley during his agreement with CMI and had therefore belonged to CMI. The issue was whether Island had nevertheless acquired them under the “catch-all” language in its agreement with CMI.
 
The Deputy High Court Judge ruled in May 2014 that it had, and the Court of Appeal upheld that ruling.

The full judgment can be read in the attached document.

Ian Mill QC and Tom Cleaver acted for the successful Respondent.

Clerks

Staff