She Tried to Sell a Clapton Bootleg for $11. He Filed Suit

German court rules in favor of rock star in copyright infringement case
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2021 6:30 AM CST
Eric Clapton Wins Suit Against Woman Selling Bootleg CD
Eric Clapton appears during a press conference for the movie "Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars" at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11, 2017.   (Chris Donovan/The Canadian Press via AP)

A German judge has sided with Eric Clapton in a copyright infringement case that started with a CD being listed on eBay for just over $11. Deutsche Welle reports that on Wednesday, a Duesseldorf regional court ruled a 55-year-old widow who'd tried to sell a bootlegged CD of some of the UK rock star's 1980s performances—which she said had been purchased by her late husband at a major department store in 1987—now owes Clapton far more than what she was asking for the album.

The woman, whom the Guardian IDs as "Gabriele P.," says she took the listing down after one day, but Clapton apparently got wind of her attempted sale and sent the German court an affidavit noting the recording was against the law, and made without Clapton's OK. When Gabriele was sent a note from Clapton's lawyers, her defiant response was to tell them to stop harassing her, adding, "Feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands."

That's exactly what happened, and the court issued the injunction as Clapton desired, which the woman appealed. The judge, however, rebuffed her appeal, noting it didn't matter that she didn't know the recording was illegal, as she claimed, or that she hadn't bought the CD herself, per German newspaper Bild. The court has now mandated that the Ratingen woman pay the legal fees for both parties, which amount to $3,800 or so.

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And if Gabriele for whatever reason tries to sell the CD again? She'll have to pony up around $280,000 or face six months behind bars. "Germany is a country where sales of bootleg and counterfeit CDs are rife, which damages the industry and customers with poor quality and misleading recordings," Clapton's manager tells the Guardian, adding that the musician has "successfully pursued hundreds of bootleg cases in the German courts." Gabriele P.'s legal team says she plans to appeal to the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court, per the Washington Post. (More Eric Clapton stories.)

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