Eric Clapton’s Management Issues Statement About Bootleg Lawsuit
Days after lawyers for Eric Clapton successfully sued a German woman for trying to sell a bootleg CD on eBay, the rocker’s management has issued a “clarification to set the record straight” following “widespread and often misleading” press stories. Of particular note, the musician reportedly no longer “[intends] to collect the costs awarded to him by the court.”
According to initial reports, the eBay seller listed a CD of a bootlegged Clapton concert recorded in the ‘80s, with the asking price of 9.95 GBP (approximately $11.20). She insisted she didn’t know she was violating copyright law and claimed the recording had been purchased by her late husband in 1987 at a well-known department store.
However, a judge in Dusseldorf, Germany, ruled against the seller, requiring her to pay the legal fees of both parties (totaling almost $4,000). She would have faced a larger fine and possible prison time had she continued to offer the CD for sale. Clapton reportedly didn’t appear in court for the case but did send an affidavit confirming the recording was illegal.
Now Clapton’s management has attempted to clarify several points related to the lawsuit, issuing a statement to the guitarist's fan club. You can read the comments in full below.
Given the widespread and often misleading press reports about a recent bootleg case involving a woman in Germany, the following provides clarification to set the record straight.
Germany is one of several countries where sales of unauthorized and usually poor-quality illegal bootleg CDs are rife, which harms both the industry and purchasers of inferior product. Over a period of more than 10 years the German lawyers appointed by Eric Clapton, and a significant number of other well-known artists and record companies, have successfully pursued thousands of bootleg cases under routine copyright procedures.
It is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection, but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorized copies for sale. In the case of an individual selling unauthorized items from a personal collection, if following receipt of a “cease and desist” letter the offending items are withdrawn, any costs would be minimal, or might be waived.
Eric Clapton’s lawyers and management team (rather than Eric personally) identifies if an item offered for sale is illegal, and a declaration confirming that is signed, but thereafter Eric Clapton is not involved in any individual cases, and 95% of the cases are resolved before going to Court.
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.
If the individual had complied with the initial letter the costs would have been minimal. 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.
However, the individual appointed a lawyer who appealed the injunction decision. The Judge encouraged the individual to withdraw the appeal to save costs, but she proceeded. The appeal failed and she was ordered to pay the costs of the Court and all of the parties.
However, when the full facts of this particular case came to light and it was clear the individual is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target, Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the Court. Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.
Eric Clapton Management
22nd December 2021