Composers had entered an agreement with the respondent, assigning all copyrights in their works to the respondent. The respondent asserted also an equitable assignment of all future works. The appellant asserted that the rights in the particular work had not been assigned, having being written for them.
Held: The appeal failed. The relative clause in 2 (a), describing the rights assigned to PRS, is designed to include a category of future rights, namely, those which the composer may own. The category of future rights assigned does not contain any requirement that, once the work is created, the rights must be owned by the composer. It does no more than refer to rights capable of being owned by the composer.
‘It is, in my view, inconsistent with the concept of a higher right created by an equitable assignment, independent of the contract, to suggest that a reasonable person would have understood the parties to have intended only to transfer rights in works of which they became owner once the works had been composed. To do so would turn the priority rules in relation to equitable assignments topsy-turvy; it permits the property rights created by the equitable assignment to be undermined by a subsequent equitable assignment.’
Moses, Kitchin, Underhill LJJ
 EWCA Civ 1236,  FSR 17,  BUS LR 207,  WLR(D) 385,  ECC 3
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 91(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Performing Right Society Limited v London Theatre of Varieties Limited HL 1924
The parties, the plaintiff who was the equitable assignee of performing rights and the infringing defendant, joined specific issue on the absence of the legal owner of the rights.
Held: His absence was critical. PRS failed to obtain a . .
Cited – Chaplin v Leslie Frewin (Publishers) Ltd 1966
It had been agreed that the defendant publishers should during the legal term of the copyright have the exclusive right of producing, publishing and selling a work in volume form in any language throughout the world. The author warranted that he was . .
Cited – In re Lind; Industrials Finance Syndicate Ltd v Lind CA 1915
The court considered the nature of an equitable assignment of a copyright. Phillimore LJ opined said: ‘The assignment does, however, operate as a contract to assign if and when the property comes into existence, and to use the words of [Jessel . .
Cited – Peer International Corporation Southern Music Publishing Company Inc Peermusic (UK) Limited v Termidor Music Publishers Limited Termidor Musikverlag Gmbh and Co Kg -And-Editoria Musical De Cuba CA 30-Jul-2003
Peer sought declarations that they were the owners, or licensees, of the UK copyright in musical works composed by Cuban nationals, relying on assignments in writing by the composers and in some instances by their heirs. The defendants claimed under . .
Cited – Rainy Sky Sa and Others v Kookmin Bank SC 2-Nov-2011
Commercial Sense Used to Interpret Contract
The Court was asked as to the role of commercial good sense in the construction of a term in a contract which was open to alternative interpretations.
Held: The appeal succeeded. In such a case the court should adopt the more, rather than the . .
Appeal from – Performing Right Society Ltd v B4U Network (Europe) Ltd ChD 22-Oct-2012
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Contract, Intellectual Property, Equity
Updated: 21 November 2021; Ref: scu.516497