Fisher wins 40% of future earnings from ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’

January 2007

Music publishing

Matthew Fisher, a founding member of 1960s rock group Procol Harum, has won a High Court battle over who wrote their hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale. For almost 40 years, the music in the song has been credited to lead singer Gary Brooker and the words to lyricist Keith Reid. Mr Justice Blackburne decided that the keyboard player, who played the distinctive organ melody on the 1967 recording, made “a distinctive and significant contribution to the overall composition” and this was “quite obviously, the product of skill and labour on the part of the person who created it”. Mr Justice Blackburne ruled Fisher was entitled to 40% of the musical copyright (or 20% of the whole copyright). He shares the musical copyright with Gary Broooker who said that the decision had ‘shattered’ his faith in British justice. However Fisher’s claim for back royalties of up to £1m was rejected and his claim was backdated to May 2005 (when the claim was brought). Both parties face substantial costs bill. Brooker was granted leave to appeal.

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