The Jesus and Mary Chain sue Warner for £1.8m over copyright infringement


The Jesus and Mary Chain are suing Warner Music Group (WMG) for $2.5m (£1.77m) for copyright infringement after the company refused to terminate its ownership of five of their albums including the 1985 debut Psychocandy.

In a lawsuit filed in California, Jim and William Reid invoked section 203 of the US Copyright Act of 1976, which allows authors to ask copyright holders to revert rights 35 years after a work is published, Pitchfork reports.

On 7 January 2019, the Reids sent a notice of termination regarding Psychocandy, Darklands (1987), Barbed Wire Kisses (1988), Automatic (1989) and Honey’s Dead (1992), as well as several EPs and singles, the latter eligible to revert on 8 January 2021. Their lawsuit claimed that Psychocandy’s termination date was 22 January 2021; the other albums terminate in 2022 and beyond.

In December 2020, a lawyer for WMG label Rhino told the Reids: “[WMG predecessor] WEA was the ‘maker’ of the Noticed Works and the first owner of the copyright in the Noticed Works” when the group signed with WEA in 1985. “As a result, you never owned any copyrights in the recordings which you could terminate.”

Evan S Cohen, a lawyer for the Reids, said the label had “completely disregarded” the band’s ownership rights.

He wrote: “Despite the law returning the US rights to the band, WMG is continuing to exploit those recordings and thereby wilfully infringing upon our clients’ copyrights. This behaviour must stop. The legal issues in this suit are of paramount importance to the music industry.”

The band’s last album was 2017’s Damage and Joy, their first in 19 years. The band officially split in 1999, having ceased to function in 1998 following the breakdown of a tour of the US and Japan.

In 2007, they reunited with a performance at the Coachella festival in California. The reunion didn’t constitute a reconciliation, Jim Reid told the Guardian in 2017. “The band was back together and we were playing live, but there was still … we weren’t really … we were saying to everybody: ‘Yeah, everything’s great now,’ and it wasn’t great. We were still sort of chucking things at each other at any opportunity.”



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