Tuesday 14 December 2010

Unlicensed imprecision

Today, in Pink Floyd v EMI Records, [2010] EWCA Civ 1429, the Court of Appeal said that this clause in a 1999 contract must include iTunes sales:

[EMI’s] receipts shall be calculated at the so-called ‘source’ so that they shall incorporate the receipt of [EMI’s] licensees sub-licensees affiliates or any third party obtaining rights in this respect directly or indirectly from [EMI].

While certain terms are often used in media contracts without any legal precision – ‘sublicence’ being one of the worst offenders – and everyone apparently believes they know what they are talking about, parties should be aware that one day a contract may end up in front of a judge (or three in this case). Though the judge may listen to arguments about the matrix of fact, which could include the vagaries of media jargon-speak, if words have very precise legal meanings and even statutory definitions, he’s probably going to go with his legal dictionary.

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