Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones have ended one of the most acrimonious copyright disputes in British pop by granting Richard Ashcroft all future royalties from his 1997 song Bitter Sweet Symphony, performed by the Verve.
Bitter Sweet Symphony reached No 2 in the UK and had a distinctive string motif. Those four seconds of strings were sampled from an orchestral recording of the Rolling Stones song The Last Time, but the rights were not fully cleared before the song was released.
Publishing company ABKCO, owned by Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, argued that the Verve had used a larger portion of the sample than was agreed, and, following a lawsuit that was settled out of court, forced Ashcroft to relinquish the song’s royalties and create a new song writing credit: Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft.
But following an appeal to Jagger and Richards from Ashcroft’s management company, the pair “immediately, unhesitatingly and unconditionally agreed” to hand over the royalties.
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