A&M Records Ltd & Anr v Video Collection International Ltd

Reference: [1995] EMLR 25

Court: Chancery Division

Judge: Sir Mervyn Davies

Date of judgment: 28 Oct 1994

Summary: Intellectual property - Copyright - infringement - action over use of sound recordings embodying music to which the dancers, Torvill and Dean, performed in various dance championships in 1994


Instructing Solicitors: Hamlin Slowe


Torvill & Dean wanted to create music to dance to. Their service company, Inside Edge (“IE”), was given the task of doing this. IE engaged a Mr Pullen who in turn engaged an arranger and a conductor (R). It was common ground that R did the following – commissioned and paid for the musical arrangements, booked and paid for the studio, arranged and paid for the attendance of the 51 musicians necessary to make the recording, engaged and paid for the scoring, a sound engineer, and a fixer and paid for all expenses of the sessions such as meals, taxis, etc.


Who was the “author” of the sound recording under s 9(2) CDPA? By whom were the arrangements necessary for the making of the recording undertaken? Alternatively, was IE the owner in equity under the principles of Massine v De Basil? And if the plaintiffs were not the owners of the copyright, was R estopped from asserting his ownership?


IE undertook the arrangements through Mr Pullen. R made the recordings, but Mr Pullen undertook the arrangements. It was also an implied term in the contract between R and Mr Pullen that IE would own the copyright. However, had IE not been th copyright owner, R would not have been estopped because he was not aware of his rights.


The decision is another case on the test of first ownership of copyright in sound recordings under the CDPA. It is also interesting on the estoppel point, because R’s lack of knowledge rendered it not unjust that he could have asserted his strict legal rights.