One of the UK music industry’s most notable copyright disputes has been resolved with the royalties and rights for Bitter Sweet Symphony being returned to The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft.
The 1997 Britpop hit samples an orchestral cover of The Rolling Stones song The Last Time, which sparked an infamous plagiarism dispute spanning two decades.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, The Verve had originally agreed to part with 50% of the song’s royalties in exchange for using a small sample of the track.
However, former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein sued the band, claiming they had used more than what was promised.
This led to all royalties and rights to the hit being redirected, and The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards receiving writing credits.
The song itself was a global success, reaching Number 2 in the UK Singles chart and being nominated for a Grammy award.
But after almost 22 years of relinquished control over the song, Ashcroft confirmed on Thursday that he had been reassigned the rights and royalties following a “magnanimous gesture”.
He said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce as of last month Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agreed to give me their share of the song Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
“This remarkable and life affirming turn of events was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith, who have also agreed that they are happy for the writing credit to exclude their names and all their royalties derived from the song they will now pass to me.”
Ashcroft revealed the news after picking up an award for outstanding contribution to British Music at the Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday evening.
Speaking to Sky News, The Verve frontman said the award was a “great honour”.
“With the Ivors, you know [the judges] are all fellow writers, musicians, people who care.”