CONTRACT LAW
Record Labels, Music Publishers, Artists

Confetti Records & Others -v- Warner Music UK Ltd
This UK case involved the purported licence of a sample of the track Burnin by the claimants to the defendants. The first claimant (Confetti) had been negotiating with the defendants about use of the track and had issued a ‘subject to contract’ deal memorandum which both parties signed. The first claimant then issued an invoice to the defendant and sent a recording of the track. Mr Justice Lewison held that ‘subject to contract’ had the same meaning in the music industry as other businesses and the document was not binding as such. It was for the defendant to prove otherwise. As the defendant had failed to do this, the deal memorandum was not binding.
But Mr Justice Lewison went on to decide that the subsequent sending of an invoice with the track constituted an offer which was subsequently accepted by the defendant’s conduct in making use of the track and hence a contract had come into existence so there could be no copyright infringement as permission to use was granted.
The third claimant, Andrew Alcee, brought a claim under Section 80 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988on the grounds that the defendants use of the sample had been derogatory as violent and drug related references had been added to the sample, distorting it and prejudicing the third claimant. Lewison J held that in effect rap, though a form of English, was a foreign language and expert evidence would be needed on phrases such as ‘mish mish man’ and ‘shizzle my nizzle’ before any decision on derogatory treatment could be found. He also added that it would be unlikely that an expert drug dealer would be called as a witness in the Chancery Division.
Source: The Times 12th June 2003