Spector wins back rights to Fifties classic

A High Court judge equated a classic Fifties song to a piece of land yesterday when the American pop legend Phil Spector won back the United Kingdom copyright to his first hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him", in a case that illustrated the continuing value of the songs that accompanied the adolescence of today's fifty-somethings.

The schmaltzy favourite of a thousand karaoke bars, better known as "To Know, Know, Know, Him", has been the source of a wrangle over unpaid royalties between Spector's US-based company, Mother Bertha Music Inc, and UK-based Bourne Music Ltd.

Mr Justice Ferris ruled that Bourne Music had no rights to the copyright after December 1986.

Mr Spector claimed an initial 28-year copyright assignment under United States law, made in 1958, in which rights to the song were transferred to the music publishers Warman Music - and a licence was then granted to Bourne - had expired in 1986.

Bourne claimed that it was still entitled to the rights even though, since 1987, it had not paid any royalties in respect of them. An inquiry into those profits due to Mr Spector, estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, will now take place.

In an illuminating aside about the true nature of classic songs the judge said: "When that 28-year term expired the copyright `reverted' to Mr Spector in the same way that one speaks of land `reverting' to a freeholder on the expiration of a lease." A further hearing will take place in May to decide who owns the copyright in jurisdictions outside the UK.

Now 57, Mr Spector wrote the song in 1958 for the Teddy Bears, a band comprising himself and two high school friends, who took it first to the top of the US charts and then around the world. He reached his peak in the mid-Sixties, producing classics like "River Deep - Mountain High", with Ike and Tina Turner, and The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", before announcing his retirement at the age of 25.

Since his peak Mr Spector has kept a low profile. He produced the Beatles' Let It Be album in the late Sixties - for which he was criticised by Paul McCartney for the soaring violins on "The Long and Winding Road".

He has managed to live sumptuously in Los Angeles for 20 years on the royalties from his early works. Which explains the importance of the court case.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones