The former Sex Pistols frontman, Johnny Rotten, has lost a high court attempt to block the punk band’s songs from being used in a forthcoming drama series.
The group’s former drummer, Paul Cook, and guitarist, Steve Jones, sued the band’s ex-singer, whose real name is John Lydon, to allow their songs to feature in Pistol, a TV series directed by Danny Boyle.
In a ruling on Monday, Sir Anthony Mann found the pair were entitled to invoke “majority voting rules” against Lydon, in relation to the use of Sex Pistols material in the series, under the terms of a band member agreement (BMA).
The six-part drama, which is being made by Disney and is due to air next year, is based on a 2016 memoir by Jones called Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol.
Lydon has previously told the Sunday Times he thinks the series is the “most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure”.
During a week-long hearing in London, Jones and Cook argued that, under the terms of the BMA made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests can be determined on a “majority rules basis”.
But Lydon, who has previously told the Sunday Times he thinks the series is the “most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure”, argued that licences could not be granted without his consent.
His lawyers told the court that the agreement had never been used and that he considers it a “nuclear button” for the claimants and their manager, Anita Camerata, to “impose their wishes” on him.
Lydon said the agreement “smacks of some kind of slave labour”.
They said he had a “deep-felt and passionate aversion to becoming a ‘prisoner’ of a hostile majority” and in his evidence to the court, Lydon said the agreement “smacks of some kind of slave labour”.
Lawyers for Cook and Jones argued there should not be any dispute about whether the agreement allows licensing decisions to be made “by a majority” and said Lydon was in breach of the BMA by refusing to provide his consent.
They also said the court could not accept his evidence as true because it was a “straightforward lie” and he could not “genuinely have believed the agreement was never effective”.
They told the court Cook and Jones’s claim was against Lydon alone, and that the original band member Glen Matlock, who was replaced by Sid Vicious, and representatives of the estate of Vicious – who died in February 1979 – supported their position.
Finding that Lydon must have been aware of the effect of the BMA, Sir Anthony said: “Mr Lydon must have been fully advised about the BMA and its consequences.
It is highly likely that, even if he did not read it himself, it will have been explained to him and he will have understood its effects.”
“On his side he had an English lawyer, a US attorney and his manager … it is impossible to believe that he did not know what its effect was and I reject the suggestion made by him that he did not really know or appreciate its effect.
“That piece of evidence was a convenient contrivance. It is highly likely that, even if he did not read it himself, it will have been explained to him and he will have understood its effects.”
The judge went on: “The inherent likelihood of that is reinforced by his own evidence about his concerns to protect the Sex Pistols’ legacy.
“A man with those concerns, which I accept he had, would expect to be made to understand important documents that he was signing. He would not have been cavalier about that.”
The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 and disbanded in 1978, but have performed live shows together a number of times since then, most recently in 2008.
Jones and Cook welcomed the ruling. In a joint statement they said: “It brings clarity to our decision-making and upholds the band members’ agreement on collective decision-making.
“It 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 article was adapted from theguardian.com.