In 1997 the Verve released Bitter Sweet Symphony. However, the song’s writer, Richard Ashcroft, has not received any royalties for the song, until now.
Our Solicitor, Carrie Gwyther, takes a look at the copyright infringement claim.
During production of the Symphony, the Verve asked the Rolling Stones if they could sample a short string sequence from the symphonic version of The Last Time. The Stones agreed to this, in exchange for 50% of all royalties from the song.
On release, the Rolling Stones’ late manager, Allen Klein, filed a copyright infringement claim, arguing that the Verve breached the contract by using a larger portion of the song than agreed. As a result, the Verve were forced to relinquish all of their royalties and publishing rights to the song to Klein’s holding company, ABKCO Records, with the credit for the song going to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
The dispute came to an end following negotiations with Klein’s son and the Rolling Stones’ new manager in April, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards then agreeing to assign their rights back to the Verve. At the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft announced that all the rights have been signed back over to him and he would benefit from all future royalties (the song continues to sell, with over 70,000 copies sold in the UK last year). The Rolling Stones released a statement saying that Ashcroft has been denied rights to ‘one of his most iconic songs, including the lyrical content’ for more than two decades.