Tuesday 23 April 2013

Damages and more damages -- but they still don't add up to much

Portrait of the artist
as a young man ...
Although the news of Cavalcade Records Ltd (trading as Minder Records Ltd) succeeding in its copyright infringement action against HHO Multimedia Ltd is no longer hot news, the case -- which is not available on the BAILII database but can be found on Music Week here, is not without interest. The claim, adjudicated in the Patents County Court by Judge Colin Birss QC, related to an early Rod Stewart recording, The Blues.

HHO was shown to have made Minder’s recording available to a third party partner, Cleopatra Records Inc, which subsequently sold recordings to the public, both as part of physical packages and digitally. The court granted a permanent injunction against HHO and also awarded Minder damages and costs (the latter being estimated at a little over £40,000).

According to a note on this decision on the Lawtel subscription-only service, the damages were not merely compensatory but also additional (= punitive) because,
"although the defendant had not received a significant benefit in licensing a music track, it was a fragrant [sic] and deliberate infringement and it had demonstrated a reckless attitude".
The parties were actually some way apart on the question of quantum. Minder's claim that it was entitled to up to £14,000 was described as "inflated", while HHO's contention that Minder should receive no more than a few hundred pounds was "clearly wrong". The judge eventually settled for a sum of £3,500 for compensatory damages. As for additional damages, it was plain that HHO had a reckless attitude towards its infringement and "could not have cared less". A further £3,500 in damages was therefore awarded on this basis.

The Blues: Rod Stewart and Python Lee Jackson, here

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