Bob Marley songs assigned

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s decision on an agreement that purported to assign the copyright in songs written by Bob Marley from his record company at the time, Cayman Music Inc (Cayman), to Island Logic.

Marley had misattributed 13 songs (including the hit No Woman No Cry) to other artists as a way of preventing the relevant copyright and royalties from going to his record company under a recording agreement. The key question before the court was whether the songs were included within the agreement.

The High Court held that the songs were “compositions” within the terms of the agreement, so that the rights in the songs were transferred under that agreement, even though the agreement did not expressly refer to the songs. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision.

The case shows how important it is to draft contracts precisely, particularly in the context of a complex set of background facts.

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