Gus Stewart/Redferns Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is backing down after he and his management team drew flak for initiating legal proceedings against a German widow who unknowingly tried to sell a bootleg copy of one of his albums.
The "Wonderful Tonight" rocker, 76, said that the woman no longer has to pay both his and her own attorney's fees, a sum that reportedly totaled about $3,900.
"When the full facts of this particular case came to light and it was clear the individual is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target, Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the Court," his management team said in a statement on Monday. "Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs."
Social media criticism erupted against Clapton last week after he sued a woman for listing a pirated version of his Eric Clapton – Live USA album for $11 on eBay — and won, according to Deutsche Welle. The negative attention came amid other headlines criticizing Clapton for his anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown approach to the COVID pandemic.
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The woman, known as Gabriele P., claimed that she was unaware the CD was pirated, and removed the listing a day after posting it.
In their statement, Clapton's management team said the case "could have been disposed of quickly at minimal cost," but evolved into something greater after the woman's lawyers replied and said, "Feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands."
The statement doubled down on the fact that costs would have remained "minimal" had the individual "complied with the initial letter" or "explained at the outset the full facts in a simple phone call or letter to the lawyers," but that she instead appointed a lawyer, whose appeal against the decision failed, resulting in his client having to pay the costs of the Court and all of the parties.
The woman reportedly told the court that her late husband had purchased the CD at a store, but the judge said that the fact that she didn't acquire the CD herself was irrelevant, and ordered her to pay for the legal fees, The Guardian reported.
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage Eric Clapton
Clapton's management team said that Germany is one of several countries where sales of unauthorized bootlegs are "rife, which harms both the industry and purchasers of inferior product."
Their statement said that over the last decade, German lawyers appointed by Clapton "have successfully pursued thousands of bootleg cases under routine copyright procedures," and that such actions are not meant to target individual people selling CDs from their own collection, "but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorized copies for sale."
It noted that should there be a case where an individual is selling unauthorized items from their personal collection, any costs would be minimal – if not waived – should the person withdraw the items after receiving a "cease and desist" letter.
Clapton's management team also said that it's his lawyers and team, and not him personally, who are the ones who identify the legality of items for sale. The statement said the musician is not involved in individual cases, 95 percent of which "are resolved before going to Court."