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Pink Floyd pupils sue for royalties


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Pink Floyd pupils sue for royalties

By Nigel Rosser, Evening Standard

26 November 2004

A group of former pupils at a London comprehensive school are poised to win thousands of pounds in unpaid royalties for singing on Pink Floyd's classic Another Brick In The Wall 25 years ago.

The pupils from the 1979 fourthform music class at Islington Green School secretly recorded vocals after their teacher was approached by the band's management.

Now the 23 ex-pupils are suing for overdue session musician royalties, taking advantage of the Copyright Act 1997 to claim a percentage of the money from broadcasts.

Full story here.

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I know there's case law in the States that says you can't wait forever to file for say, patent infringement, if you've known about the infringement all along. StoneMtn, any idea if this could possibly hold up?

There are usually statutory limitation periods for any cause of action, and that is also the case in England. There are arguments to get around that, though, depending on the facts. In this case, the first point is that they were kids. In BC, at least (which is all I can say with certainty) in the case of a minor (actually an "infant" in law; which is anyone under 19 in BC) the limitation period doesn't start to run until they are of the age of majority. That probably wouldn't be enough in this case, but the better argument is that the limitation period does not run for anyone until they know that they have a cause of action. In this case, it sounds like the kids may not even have known they were on the recording for some time, or may not have known they had a right to sue until they spoke to a lawyer 30 years later; or possibly until something else happened (like they saw a TV show indicating they might have a cause of action, or something, causing them to consult a lawyer). The argument is then that the time started ticking from the moment they knew they had a cause of action on which they could sue. (I am only speculating, though, but if this ever goes to trial and there's a judgment I'd be happy to obtain it and let you know what argument was actually used.)

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I don't see how they would argue for royalties from the record, seeing as, for all intents and purposes, they acted as session singers. Although I guess, according to the article, it seems like the only claim they have is for broadcast royalties, and the lawyer seems to think they have a claim. Does this mean that, for a recording in Britain after 1997, if you employed a session musician and pay them scale, you still owe them royalties if a song is played on the radio? We're not talking album royalties here, just broadcast. I'm interested in how this turns out.

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