THERE seems to be no end to a legal battle between Sting Music and Gallo Music Publishers over whether three songs being used by Sting Music in the musical Umoja belong to Gallo, or are traditional songs that can be used by anyone without permission.
Sting had asked the South Gauteng High Court in 2008 to declare that Gallo and SM Publishing had no copyright, or any other proprietary interests, in the musical works, including the songs Thula Baba and Nomathemba.
In May this year, the trial to prove whether or not the songs were traditional or were under Gallo’s copyright began with Sting calling in a number of witnesses to show that the songs were indeed traditional.
During the trial, however, Gallo indicated it intended to amend its plea by introducing a special plea. In this plea, Gallo said it was not open to Sting disputing whether copyright subsisted in the musical works Thula Baba and Nomathemba, nor who was the owner of such copyrights.
Gallo also said the questions of fact and law were open for determination and were issues in another action between it and Sting, in the North Gauteng High Court in 2005.
That action by Gallo was compromised when a settlement agreement was made an order of the court in November 2006. In the settlement, Sting admitted that Gallo was the copyright owner of the two songs.
Three days this week were set aside to hear the plea by Gallo, whose contention was that Sting could not now raise a new defence that the songs were traditional.
"Having agreed in the 2006 proceedings that copyright persists and that Gallo was the proprietor, (Sting Music) now contends that there are other defences," Gallo’s counsel, Arnold Subel, said on Tuesday. Mr Subel said it was no longer open for Sting Music to contest that copyright on the two songs did not vest in Gallo.
However, Gavin Rome, for Sting, said there was no judicial consideration in the settlement agreement of 2006.
The matter was postponed to a date still to be determined after Sting indicated it wanted to make an application to amend its plea.
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