Who's Suing Whom: The case of the pickled sheep

MARK BRIDGER, the man who four years ago poured black ink into the tank of a sheep pickled in formaldehyde, the work of the artist Damien Hirst, is now suing Mr Hirst over copyright of the resultant "Black Sheep".

Mr Bridger personally issued a writ against Mr Hirst last Wednesday in the High Court in London, without the aid of a firm of solicitors.

The writ also named as co-defendants Booth & Clibborn Editions, who in September 1997 published a book by Mr Hirst titled I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one-to-one, always, forever, now.

In his writ Mr Bridger claims that on page 295 of the large hardback book "is a photograph of a dead sheep/ lamb preserved in a glass tank, in formaldehyde solution. By means of pulling a card the effect of pouring some black liquid into the tank is illustrated. The blackness fills up the tank and totally obscures the sheep."

Mr Bridger's writ goes on: "This specific action was performed by myself, giving a title to the resultant object, ie 'Black Sheep', on 9 May 1994. I claim copyright on the image of the effect of this action as is shown in the book."

The writ acknowledges that the sheep-in-the-tank was housed in an exhibition in the Serpentine Gallery in London, and did not belong to Mr Bridger, but was produced by Mr Hirst.

He continues: "I do not believe Damien Hirst can claim copyright for the sheep-in-the-tank or the image of it (which may or may not preclude my claim for copyright on my action and the illustration of it) because his object is only the practical presentation of a natural form and such presentations are not original to him."

The writ goes on: "Due to not having used my own materials for this action I was charged and found guilty of causing criminal damage and on 18 August 1994 given a two-year conditional discharge with no fine or compensation to pay, so my conviction was spent in August 1996".

Despite the blackness being the result of a crime, says Mr Bridger, his permission is necessary for the publication of the illustration. He says he wrote to Mr Hirst via his agents, the White Cube Gallery in London, and also to Booth & Clibborn, listing his objections. "I received no response."

The writ concludes: "And the Plaintiff's claim is for damages. Claim limited to fifty thousand pounds."

MOHAMED AL FAYED, the owner of Harrods, is suing a former member of his personal staff, Rueben Murrell, along with the editor of the Sun newspaper, David Yelland, over information Mr Murrell is said to have gained whilst working for Mr Fayed.

The writ issued by Mr Fayed's lawyers DJ Freeman last week also names as co-defendants News Group Newspapers, which publishes the the Sun and the News of the World, and the parent company News International Newspapers.

The Harrods boss is seeking injunctions against Mr Murrell, Mr Yelland and the newspaper publisher. The writ was also issued on behalf of Hyde Park Residence Limited, a company owned by Mr Fayed.

The company is seeking damages against Mr Murrell for breach of an employment contract dated 4 February 1996 which included a confidentiality clause.

Hyde Park Residence is also seeking damages against Mr Yelland, News Group and News International, "for procuring or inducing [Mr Murrell] to commit such breaches of the employment contract and/or confidentiality agreement".

The writ seeks an injunction to restrain all the defendants from infringing Hyde Park's copyright in "closed circuit television video tape recordings of the Villa Windsor or any other premises under surveillance by [Hyde Park] on behalf of [Mr Al-Fayed] and his family".

The London solicitors Farrer & Co are representing all the defendants. The law firm informed the High Court last Monday that all the defendants were contesting Mr Fayed's action.

A RECORD COMPANY which represents one of rock music's greatest drummers is suing the lead guitarist of the rock group Queen over the copyright of a number of tracks.

A writ was issued last week by Mystery Music, which is owned by Brenda Brooker. Ms Brooker was, "until his death in March 1998, exclusively entitled to the product of the services as a recording artist of the well known drummer, Cozy Powell, pursuant to a written agreement dated 1 July 1991."

Ms Brooker is suing Brian May, "who has performed both on his own and as guitarist and vocalist with the group of popular musicians known as 'Queen'."

Her writ also names as co-defendants Mr May's recording company, Duck Productions, and EMI Electrola, a record company based in Germany.

The writ concerns two "musical works" Mr Powell recorded in the autumn of 1991 for inclusion within his forthcoming album release, to be entitled The Drums Are Back.

The two tracks concerned were "Ride To Win" and "Somewhere In Time". The former was "an original arrangement of a musical work entitled 'Ride By Night' which had been composed by one Jamie Page in 1989", the writ adds.

Mr Powell and Ms Brooker then made various agreements with Mr May over the use of the tracks on his own album Back To The Light, in return for a percentage of the takings.

The writ alleges there was a further agreement that "Ride To Win", which was renamed "Till The Morning Comes" and finally "Resurrection", would be released as a single at the same time as Mr Powell's own album, The Drums Are Back.

Extracts from "Resurrection" were subsequently included within a computer game known as "Rise Of The Robots" produced by Mirage Technologies (Multimedia) Ltd.

In the event, the writ claims, all these agreements fell through, so that Ms Brooker "suffered, and continues to suffer, loss and damage".

The writ seeks an injunction to stop any further breaches of Mr Powell's copyright and damages "not to exceed pounds 50,000".

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