Ex-Sex Pistols win court battle over use of songs in Disney series

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Two former members of the Sex Pistols won a court battle in London on Monday against ex-frontman John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, who opposed the use of the punk group’s groundbreaking music in a next Disney series.

Judge Anthony Mann ruled in the High Court that former band drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones had the right to invoke majority voting rules against Lydon to authorize their 1970s catalog.

Lydon – known to the world as the sneering, red-haired singer of Johnny Rotten – had opposed the approval of licenses for Gun, a six-part Disney drama about the group directed by Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle, claiming they couldn’t be granted without his consent.

But Mann said it was “impossible to believe” that Lydon was unaware of the consequences of a 1998 agreement allowing voting on a “majority rule basis” during his efforts to protect the legacy. of the Sex Pistols.

“A man with these concerns would expect to be made to understand the important documents he was signing. He wouldn’t have been cavalier about it,” Mann said.

John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, British singer of punk band The Sex Pistols performs on July 6, 2008 at the Terres Neuvas music festival in Bobital, western France. Photo: Fred Tanneau / AFP

“He must have made the informed decision to sign it and – if it is a shackle – to chain himself,” he concluded.

The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 and revolutionized rock music with their punk style before breaking up in 1978.

Their music, fashion and hairstyles were seen as the initiators of a new counter-culture.

Famous songs including God Save the Queen and Anarchy in the UK scandalized conservative British public opinion and was seen as an attack on the monarchy during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Lydon already said Sunday Times diary that Jones’ memoir in 2016 Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Gun was extremely “disrespectful”.

Gun is based on the memoir and is due to air next year.

Lawyer Mark Cunningham, representing Lydon, said the briefs “portray him in a hostile and unflattering light.”

Lydon had argued that licenses could not be granted without his permission, adding that the band members’ agreement “smacked of a kind of slave labor.”

But Edmund Cullen, representing Jones and Cook, had said the deal allowed license applications to be approved on the basis of “majority rule”, with Lydon the only resistance.

Cullen added in written evidence that Glen Matlock, who left the band in 1977, and the estate of his replacement Sid Vicious, who died in 1979, also supported the license.

Jones and Cook welcomed the decision, saying the week-long hearing was “necessary for us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relationships.” .

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