The legal team of the Rolling Stones’ label Abkco has been busy recently. It not only appears to be behind the low-key publication of around 130 unreleased audio clips from 1969, but it’s also joined a number of other corporations in a lawsuit against a firm of documentary makers.
In papers researched by the The Hollywood Reporter, Abkco was named alongside UMG Recordings, Songs of Universal, Polygram Publishing and others as plaintiffs against U.K.-based defendants Vision Films, Coda Publishing and three individuals.
The documents allege that the production company released 11 documentary films about the Stones, Elton John, U2 and others that were simply an excuse to present the artists’ performances, and therefore “nothing more than a delivery system for intentionally infringed materials.” The 11 movies named in the suit include The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties, The Rolling Stones – Big Hits, Elton John – In Performance and Lynyrd Skynyrd – Rock Case Studies. Other productions were based around the work of Nirvana, the Red Hot Chill Peppers and Abba.
Robert Carruthers is named as director of the allegedly infringing movies, while Clare Gambold and Gwilym Davies are named as having an interest in the production company. The films were listed along with the songs they contained and a link to each product’s Amazon sales page. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Amazon appeared to have removed the titles from their site, though streams could still be purchased via Vimeo.
“Since approximately the mid-2000s, Coda has created and produced purported documentary films about some of the most popular rock bands and recordings artists of all time,” the lawsuit reads. “In fact, there purported ‘documentary’ films are nothing more than a delivery system for intentionally infringed materials, such as the Content. … Neither Plaintiffs nor their predecessors authorized Coda to use or reproduce any of the Content in any manner.”
The plaintiffs asked a New York court to declare that the defendants “willfully infringed” the copyrights and instruct them to destroy all copies of their documentaries. In addition, they asked for statutory damages up for $150,000 per infringement, or actual damages plus the defendants’ profits.