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Gary Brooker and Onward Music have been successful on their appeal concerning the copyright in the 1967 Procol Harum hit A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The Court of Appeal today overturned the High Court’s 2006 decision under which Matthew Fisher, former organist with the band, was awarded 40% of the musical copyright in the song. The Court of Appeal judgement was based on the fact that Fisher had waited almost 40 years to bring forward his claim.

Following the ruling, the full copyright in the song remains with the original writers Gary Brooker (music) and Keith Reid (lyrics) and their publishers.

Fisher, who played the organ on the Procol Harum recording, will get joint authorship for his contribution to the work. However he is not entitled to a copyright interest in the song, royalties whether past or future, and has no control over its exploitation.

A Whiter Shade of Pale is one of the most successful songs in British pop history, having sold over 6 million copies since its release and inspiring numerous cover versions.

Gary Brooker commented "For nearly three years this claim has been a great strain upon myself and my family. I believe the original trial was unfair and the results wrong. Justly, the decisions of the Court of Appeal have gone some way to putting this right and I would hope that now, we can all get on with our lives".

Simon Platz, Managing Director of Onward Music Ltd said "This is a common sense decision that should have been made at the outset. I believe that the music industry as a whole needs to re-visit its contractual relationship with musicians. Hopefully this decision will also stop spurious claims in future".

Lawrence Abramson, Managing Partner of media and entertainment lawyers, Harbottle & Lewis, led the case: "I’m delighted with the outcome of the appeal. The original decision was a major concern to all publishing companies who were steeling themselves for old claims from any number of musicians. In the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, most of these claims are now likely to fail".

For further information, please contact Lawrence Abramson on 020 7667 5000.

Issued by:
Caroline Renton
Head of Marketing, Harbottle & Lewis
Telephone: 020 7667 5231

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