WITNESSES, MUSIC AND RECOLLECTION: WHEN RADIO INTERVIEWS COME BACK AND THINGS ARE NOT ALRIGHT

I am looking for an excuse to blog about the decision of Judge Hacon in Editions Musicales Alpha S.A.R.L -v- Universal Music Publishing Limited [2017] EWHC 1058 (IPEC).  The case shows something about witness evidence (a composer “forgot” he had agreed to share the credits for a song).  It gives us an opportunity to listen for ourselves.

THE CASE

The action to a song called “Alright, Alright, Alright” sung by Mungo Jerry. The song was composed in 1973.  Before it was realised a French composer noted that it had a marked resemblance to a song  Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi (“Et Moi“). It was agreed that the French composer should share song writing credits. However years later the English writer purported to have sole rights to the song. This led to some complex litigation.

COMPARE THE SONGS

Alright, alright, alright can be heard here 

The reason why the composer agreed to agree credits can be heard is you listen to Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi here

AND THE THIRD SONG

The judgment opens with Mungo Jerry In the Summertime. That song, complete with banjo, can be heard here.

THE SERIOUS POINT

The serious point relates to witness evidence.  The composer’s solicitors wrote a letter in 2011 in response to a claim.

“We are instructed by our client that Alright, Alright, Alright is not an English language version of the French composition entitled Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi. Mr Dorset has confirmed that he is the original composer of Alright, Alright, Alright which was created by him without copying any other source. Consequently, Mr Dorset views the allegations made by Alpha Music Publishing UK Limited as misconceived.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: GOING ON THE RECORD IN 1973

Compare this to a radio interview given in 1973.

    1. There was a transcript of an interview given in 1973 by Mr Dorset to Nicky Horne, a disc jockey at the BBC. It included this:

“Interviewer: Finally let’s talk about your new record ‘Alright, Alright Alright’. Who wrote it?

RD: [Laughter] It’s a French song. A guy called Jacques Dutronc recorded it … recorded it about 6 years ago. It’s called in French…it’s called ‘Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi’ …

… I heard it at a party. Just before ‘In the Summertime’ was released in fact. … I thought it was really good and when I went over to France a little while later I said to the guy from the record company you know can you send us a copy over and he sent me a copy over and then we found that…a sort of English version with…like someone had written some lyrics to it and so I just changed the arrangement and things around a bit and we decided on this one.”

  1. In Mr Dorset’s second witness statement in these proceedings, dated 14 January 2014, he acknowledged hearing Et Moi over and over again at a party hosted by one of Peter Sellers’ make-up artists. He said the party was in 1972.”