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Johnny Rotten Comments On Legal Battle Over Sex Pistols Song Rights


Bruce Henne | 09-08-2021

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Sex Pistols Album cover art
Album cover art

(hennemusic) Johnny Rotten has issued a statement regarding the outcome of a recent legal battle with his Sex Pistols bandmates over the use the band's songs in an upcoming television series about the iconic UK punk band.

Last month, a London High Court judge ruled that the terms of a 1998 band agreement stating that decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on a "majority rules basis" was enforceable after guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook sought to include the group's songs in the forthcoming F/X limited series "Pistol"; based on a 2017 memoir by Jones entitled "Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol", Rotten (John Lydon) refused to grant permission for the songs to be included.

The case saw a lawyer for Cook and Jones reveal that both the band's original bassist, Glen Matlock, and the estate of Matlock's replacement, Sid Vicious (who died in 1979), supported their position.

"In January this year, days before a worldwide press announcement, John Lydon was told of the proposed use of Sex Pistols recordings in a six part television series based upon a book written by Steve Jones," began Lydon in his official statement. "The project had been years in the making. Despite this, John Lydon was given just a few hours' notice of what was to be announced. Understandably, John, as the creative force of the Sex Pistols wanted to know how he was going to be portrayed and his musical works were going to be used to lend credibility to the series. Despite asking for details of the script or screenplay, John still does not know these details.

"John Lydon did not ask for the recent proceedings. He was asked to allow the Sex Pistols works to be used without any prior consultation or involvement in the project. He took a stand on principle for what he sees as the integrity of the Sex Pistols legacy and fought for what he believed and continues to believe was right.

"For more than 23 years the Sex Pistols have operated on the basis of unanimous decision making. The Disney production is the first time that the unanimous approach has been ignored," continued Lydon. "It is disappointing that a High Court judge has decided that John Lydon is bound by an undated agreement signed in 1998, which imposes on the Sex Pistols a majority rule arrangement in place of the unanimous decision making process that has been followed for 23 years.

"Looking forward, there is great uncertainty about what the majority rule approach might do to water down and distort the true history and legacy of the Sex Pistols. Time will tell.

"Whatever Disney does, it is doing it without John's involvement or creative approval. John is powerless to prevent any distortion of the true history of the Sex Pistols and whatever results will be at the wish of the majority only." Read more details here.

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