Today Mr Justice Blackburne's judgment in the High court has done us all a disservice.
If the verdict is allowed to stand this will only lead to every recording session being required to have a lawyer present. Can you imagine how many great solos would not exist should that happen?
It will also involve many great artists having to give away their rights or being forced to fight claims in which they can only lose. 'No-Win No-Fee' means that – should you successfully defend your rights, having paid your own legal costs – you will be unable to recover these costs form the claimant, because he doesn’t have any assets. Either because the claimant's music career wasn’t successful enough, or they gave them all away in a divorce settlement, or because he / she decided to wait to bring the case until they had spent all the money.
In my view the only reason for this Judgement is that the judge decided that his role was to support the underdog, because he thought he had been exploited.
I think of it differently.
Matthew advertised in the Melody Maker as an organist, Gary and Keith advertised to get an organist. He was offered and accepted that role. He did not ask if he could change his role to include being a song-writer, neither was he asked to do so. Matthew was / is a good Hammond player but he doesn’t have an extensive record as a successful writer.
To decide to pursue a claim for a songwriting share (especially after such a time period) it is the musician exploiting his role, not vice versa.
An analogy that needs to be considered:
If you were to contract an electrician to re-wire your house, and when you have paid him for the job as set out, you get a further bill for Interior Design, because he helped you to choose the electrical fittings.
Who would you think was exploiting who in the above scenario? In my opinion it is exactly the same situation in respect of this claim.
While obviously the judge who is 'of that age'
remembers the song with the same affection we have for it, perhaps that is why
he attaches a lot of importance to the organ part. But in my opinion it is not
The audience reacts every time the song starts because the listener knows what is about to follow: the same response you get with a lot of hits, the Rolling Stones' track Start Me Up, for instance.
Most nights I am standing at the side of the stage at the time the song is played, and I know from people's reactions – when they all take a deep breath and can’t help but sing out – it’s when we get to 'And so it was that later ...'
All the performed parts of the song are important, but in their own right, they only ride on the back of the original idea, which was the demo made before Matthew joined the band.
Chris Cooke, Procol Harum's manager
More about the AWSoP lawsuit