Eric Clapton Wins Lawsuit Over $11 Bootleg CD

Seems like a "win the battle, lose the war" situation

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton performs onstage with his band at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2017 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for EC

Let’s say you’re a wildly popular musician whose recent stances on matters of public health and politics have frustrated friends and collaborators alike. What would your next move be? If the answer you’ve selected is “win a disproportionately punitive lawsuit,” you’ve chosen correctly — at least as as close as one can get to “correct” under these circumstances.

The musician, in this case, is Eric Clapton. And, as Consequence reports, Clapton recently filed an injunction — and won — against a German woman who was selling a bootleg live CD on eBay.

Now, this in and of itself is neither egregious nor especially frustrating. As their name suggests, bootleg recordings are not exactly legal, and if Clapton would rather not have a live recording circulating, that’s his decision — it’s his music, after all. Where things get a little more troubling comes in what the CD’s seller might face.

As the article points out, the CD was being sold for the equivalent of $11. The injunction requires the seller to cover the legal fees of both sides of the case, which comes to $3,500. (That’s significantly more than, say, the woman who caused a Tour de France crash was fined.) That fine could go up to $283,000 if the CD remains for sale on eBay, and the seller could face a prison sentence as well.

It’s not strange for Clapton — or any musician — to not want an official recording of their music circulating. But it’s also hard to look at this and not see a host of imbalances at work.

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