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'Johnny Rotten' Loses Sex Pistols Lawsuit

Judge says punk band's songs can be used in upcoming Disney-backed series
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2021 12:57 PM CDT
'Johnny Rotten' Loses Sex Pistols Lawsuit
In this 2008 photo, John Lydon, left, and Steve Jones of British punk band the Sex Pistols perform during the Exit music festival in Novi Sad, Serbia.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, FILE)

(Newser) – A British judge ruled Monday that songs by punk trailblazers the Sex Pistols can be used in a forthcoming TV series despite the opposition of former frontman John Lydon. Ex-Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook sued the singer, once known as Johnny Rotten, after he tried to block the music’s use in Pistol, a Disney-backed series based on a memoir by Jones. Lydon said during hearings at the High Court in London last month that he "heart and soul" opposed the music’s use in a show he considered to be “nonsense." He has previously expressed concerns the series will show him in a negative light.

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Lydon said the songs could not be licensed without his consent, but Cook and Jones claimed that an agreement dating from 1998 allowed a majority decision, the AP reports. Judge Anthony Mann agreed the pair were entitled to invoke “majority voting rules” as outlined in the band agreement. He said Lydon’s claim that he was not aware of the details or implications of the agreement that he had signed was "a convenient contrivance." "I reject the suggestion made by him that he did not really know or appreciate its effect,” the judge said.

Cook and Jones welcomed the ruling. They said the court battle “has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations.” The band, formed in 1975, split up in 1978 after releasing one album, and bassist Sid Vicious died the following year. The surviving members have reunited for several concerts, most recently in 2008. "Mr. Lydon has not shrunk from describing his difficult relationships with the other members—difficult in different ways with different members—and that has persisted even through their comeback tours in the 1990s and 2000s," the judge said. "It persists today." (Read more Sex Pistols stories.)

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