Sony Music attempts to strike out claim over recording and performer rights to 1960s rock giants The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The UK Law Soc Gazette

Music is trying to strike out a claim regarding recording and performer rights relating to 1960s rock giants The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited v Noel Redding Estate Limited & Anor concerns three studio albums released before the death in 1970 of guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Bass player Noel Redding died in 2003 and drummer Mitch Mitchell in 2008. The claimants, on behalf of the musicians’ estates, argue they now own a share of the sound recording copyrights and performers’ rights in relation to the albums Are You Experienced; Axis: Bold as Love; and Electric Ladyland.

Sony says the worldwide copyright of the relevant sound recordings is owned by two LLCs – Experience Hendrix LLC and Authentic Hendrix LLC – registered in Washington state. The company previously tried and failed to have the case moved to New York. At a new hearing on Thursday at the Rolls Building in London, it argued the claim should be struck out.

Sony now argues Redding and Mitchell signed releases, assignments and covenants not to sue Hendrix’s estate. They signed the releases as part of a settlement in the New York courts after Hendrix’s death, when they had claimed for 25% each of the net income generated by the singer’s estate based on an alleged oral agreement between the three band mates, the court heard.

Robert Howe KC, for Sony, said the settlement terms had released the Hendrix estate from ‘any and all liability’ and it precluded Redding and Mitchell – and thus their estates – from claiming.

The claimants previously argued the performance rights are new rights – created by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 – and so the releases, agreed in the 1960s, do not apply to them.

Sony argued that provisions in the 1988 act and its subsequent amendments had made clear it did not upset any previous agreements or arrangements.

The claimants also argued that the EU law concept of ‘consent’ for rights holders might modify the effects of the releases. Mr Justice Michael Green was presiding over the case, which continues.