Eric Clapton to waive legal costs against woman who attempted to sell single bootlegged CD

The artist’s management have issued a clarifying statement after the singer attracted criticism over the David v Goliath win

Eric Clapton has waived the legal costs that a German court ordered a 55-year-old woman to pay, over a single CD containing a bootleg copy of a 1980s concert she attempted to sell.

The musician’s management has also issued a clarifying statement in response to widespread social media criticism over Clapton’s decision to take legal action in the first place, saying Clapton was not involved in the specifics of the case and she “is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target”.

On 18 December, a Düsseldorf court ordered the woman to pay the legal fees of both parties, totalling £2,889, over the attempted sale of an illegal copy of a CD titled Eric Clapton – Live USA on eBay for €9.95.

The woman told the court her late husband bought the disc at a department store in the 1980s. She said she was unaware she was committing copyright infringement by attempting to sell the CD, and the advertisement on eBay was only up for one day.

But when Clapton’s German legal team informed the woman of the CD’s illegal status, she responded: “I object and ask you not to harass or contact me any further”, and “feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands”.

Clapton’s lawyers filed for, and won, an injunction, which the woman unsuccessfully appealed.

The David and Goliath battle, in which Goliath ultimately won, drew ire from some quarters against Clapton, 76, who was already courting controversy over his scepticism of Covid-19 vaccinations and criticism of lockdowns.

On Thursday AEDT, Eric Clapton Management issued a public statement to address “widespread and often misleading press reports” about the German bootleg case.

“Over the past decade a number of well-known recording companies and artists, including Clapton, have engaged German lawyers to pursue thousands of bootleg cases flouting the country’s copyright laws,” the statement said.

“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.”

The statement emphasised that, in Clapton’s case, once it is established that an individual infringement has occurred and he has signed a declaration, he has no further involvement.

“If following receipt of a ‘cease and desist’ letter the offending items are withdrawn, any costs would be minimal, or might be waived,” the statement went on to explain.

“This case could have been disposed of quickly at minimal cost, 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.”

“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,” the statement said.

Despite the judge urging the woman to withdraw, she proceeded with the appeal, which failed. She was ordered by the court to pay the costs of all parties.

“When the full facts of this particular case came to light … Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the court,” the statement concluded.

“Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.”

Earlier this year, Clapton told Rolling Stone he suffered a severe reaction to the AstraZeneca jab and described the narrative surrounding the safety of the vaccine as “propaganda”.

In August he released a song titled This Has Gotta Stop, widely believed to be a protest against the UK’s stringent lockdown laws during the height of the pandemic.


Kelly Burke

The GuardianTramp

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