The Boss regains control of his work

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The Independent Online
THE VENUE was packed and the crowd waited with bated breath but, when "The Boss" made his entrance, there was only a rustle of papers and a ripple of whispers.

Instead of the rock stadiums he is used to, a besuited Bruce Springsteen was appearing in the sombre environs of the High Court, where he learnt yesterday that he had won his fight against a company he accused of selling his music without copyright.

The American rock star, known worldwide since the Eighties as "The Boss", gave a modest smile when the judge granted him an injunction preventing Masquerade Music from releasing an album of his songs written 26 years ago.

He had claimed that he owned the copyright to the songs and Masquerade's attempt to claim ownership and release the recordings was an attack on his artistic integrity.

After the hearing, Mr Springsteen said: "I did not come here for the money, I came here for the music. The music that you release is the way you shape your career. It is a big part of what you say and the way that you say it."

At the hearing in October, his counsel, Nigel Davis QC, told the court that the early recordings, which had never been released legitimately because Mr Springsteen considered them sub-standard, were valuable because of the singer's massive following around the world.

Mr Springsteen told the court of his hand-to-mouth existence in the early days of his career when he had nowhere to live and relied on handouts from his management team.

But when his third album, Born To Run, was released in 1975, The Boss, who was brought up in a poor neighbourhood in New Jersey, decided to regain control of his career. "I realised I didn't own any of my music. If I had written a book, I wouldn't have been able to quote a line from my own music... it was not so much about money. I was concerned with full control of my music, which I have been for 25 years and which is why I am here today," he said.

Mr Springsteen was also awarded his pounds 500,000 court costs against Masquerade and Mr Justice Ferris allowed him to seek damages of pounds 2m against Robert Tringham, the man who ran the now defunct Flute International Ltd, who was also found to have infringed copyright of some of the songs. Flute, which was not pursued in the action because it is in compulsory liquidation, released the Springsteen songs on albums entitled Unearthed and Unearthed II in 1996.

Masquerade imported 75 copies of the CD Before the Fame last year and "threatened to release many further copies of this disc", the judge said.

Outside the courtroom, Mr Springsteen said he had come to defend his music and he would not hesitate to do so again. "It is something I have fought for since I was young. It is the music that you write alone with your guitar when you are sitting in your room late at night. It is one of the most personal things in your life."