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Eric Clapton waives legal costs of woman who tried to sell bootlegged CD

The guitarist was derided on social media for pursuing the case

By Joe Goggins

Eric Clapton on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London, May 18, 2015
Clapton has been mired in controversy for much of 2021. (Photo: Alamy)

Eric Clapton has waived the legal costs that a 55-year-old woman was ordered to pay by a German court for attempting to sell a CD containing a bootlegged recording of a 1980s concert.

It emerged last Saturday (December 18) that a court in Düsseldorf had ordered the woman, known as Gabriele P, to pay the costs incurred by both parties in the wrangle (in total £2,889) which was over her listing of an illegal copy of a CD entitled ‘Eric Clapton – Live USA’ on eBay for €9.95. The news was met with widespread criticism of Clapton on social media, which his representatives have now sought to address.

His management claimed that Clapton was not involved personally in the case and that the woman involved “is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target”. She claimed that her late husband had bought the CD at a department store in the 1980s, telling the court that she was not aware she was committing copyright infringement by listing the CD, which she says was only live on eBay for a day.

Yesterday (December 22), Eric Clapton Management made a public statement on what they called “widespread and often misleading press reports,” claiming that the wider issue was with prolific German bootleggers and not individual cases like this one. “Over the past decade a number of well-known recording companies and artists, including Clapton, have engaged German lawyers to pursue thousands of bootleg cases flouting the country’s copyright laws,” read the statement. “It is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection, but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorised copies for sale.”

Clapton’s involvement, they said, went no further than signing a cease-and-desist letter, and had that letter been obeyed, “any costs would be minimal, or might be waived.” However, the woman responded by challenging Clapton’s lawyers to seek further litigation, saying: “I object and ask you not to harass or contact me any further”, and “feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands”. 

“This triggered the next step in the standard legal procedures,” contained the statement, “and the court then made the initial injunction order. Had she explained at the outset the full facts in a simple phone call or letter to the lawyers, any claim might have been waived, and costs avoided.”

The woman lodged an appeal against the injunction, and pressed ahead with it against the judge’s advice, leading to last week’s ruling against her when the appeal failed. “When the full facts of this particular case came to light…Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the court,” read the statement in conclusion. “Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.”

The incident brings to close a year marked by controversy for the iconic guitarist. He made a litany of alleged anti-vaccine comments back in May, when he claimed to have had a “severe” reaction to the AstraZeneca jab in a letter to the anti-lockdown activist Robin Monotti. He claimed the safety of the vaccine had been overstated by “propaganda”.

He has since doubled down on these sentiments, announcing in July that he would not perform at any venue requiring proof of vaccination, releasing a single in August, ‘This Has Gotta Stop’, that likened lockdown to slavery, and appearing last month on the podcast of one of America’s most prominent vaccine sceptics, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.