March 2003

Record Labels, Music Publishers

A folk musician says he is to take legal action against Rod Stewart over his contribution to the 1970s hit song “Maggie May”. Ray Jackson, a member of folk/rock band Lindisfarne, says he was paid just in 1971 for his contribution of a distinctive mandolin section in the recording. Mr Jackson believes he may have lost at least because he was not credited for the track’s distinctive “hook”.

Mr Jackson is basing his claim on the Court of Appeal ruling that held that session musician Bobby Valentino should be recognised for his part in writing the distinctive violin riff on the Bluebells’ 1983 hit and subsequent 1993 number one hit “Young At Heart”. Stewart’s defence is that Jackson was engaged on a ‘work for hire’ basis and that all and any copyright which might have subsisted in the mandolin recording was assigned to Stewart absolutely and the was ‘full and final settlement’ for his services and any contribution. It is accepted that Mr Jackson had played on the song but not that he had any part in writing it. Stewart’s argument is that the recording and song were from the inception of their creation “the sole and exclusive property of Rod Stewart, his record company and the co-publishers.”
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COMMENT : A case with very similar facts was considered by the High Court in July 2002. The claimant, Bobby Valentino, was the session musician who played violin on The Bluebells’ hit “Young At Heart “. The court held that he is entitled to royalties from the record and the use of the song. Valentino was originally paid just to add a fiddle part to the 1984 single, which reached number eight in the charts that year.The song reached number one when it was re-released in 1993.The Court held that Mr Valentino was a co-author of the song – and therefore entitled to royalties.

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