Regaining Bob Marley’s catalogue - Legal battles ahead for Tuff Gong?

Bunny Wailer considers claiming Tuff Gong albums

BY BASIL WALTERS Observer staff reporter

Friday, October 22, 2010

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THERE is the likelihood that Tuff Gong Records will soon start legal proceedings challenging a recent court ruling giving ownership of the Bob Marley catalogue to the Universal Music Group.

This was hinted at by attorney-at-law, Michael Lorne, who was speaking at the revamped Peter Tosh Symposium held at the Undercroft at the University of the West Indies, Mona on Tuesday night.

In setting the stage, Lorne gave a brief account of the recent court ruling which gave Universal Music Group (UMG) control over a large portion of the Marley catalogue. "As many of you know. The Bob Marley estate was sold to Island (Blackwell). Blackwell sold it to Polydor, Polydor sold it to Universal. And the other day I read in the papers where there were some contests between the Marley family and Universal, in trying to get back the Bob Marley estate. But the court ruled in favour of Universal."

Lorne then went on to share with the audience an experience with Bunny Wailer some time ago at the start of the legal wrangling between the Marley estate and Universal Records. "While there was this wrangle going on with the Bob Marley estate, one day Bunny Wailer came to me. And he said let's go by the court... I said why you want to go Bunny. Him said come with me because I want to make a statement to the court... and Bunny said to the Judge, I hope that Tuff Gong Records is not part of this Bob Marley estate that is being negotiated for sale."

Lorne said that the judges and the rest of lawyers concurred with Bunny that Tuff Gong Records is not a part of the Bob Marley estate that was being negotiated with Chris Blackwell.

"This was many years ago," Lorne said before adding that the other day when the court ruled in favour of UMG, Bunny called him, suggesting that the time is now ripe to begin the legal process to get back a portion of the Marley estate that falls under Tuff Gong ownership.

"Him (Bunny) sey, you think we can now start, the system going to get back now as much of Bob Marley estate which falls under Tuff Gong. Because a lot of the songs, especially Wailers' songs, are part of Tuff Gong. Tuff Gong, that symbol with the three hands in a circle represents Bob, Peter and Bunny. Tuff Gong Records was the original Wailers company that the three of them had set up," Lorne recalled.

"And the logic of it now, we had made it clear that that is not part of the estate, therefore, the catalogue should not have reached the hands of Universal," Lorne said. "I say all of that to say, it looks like we really have some battles ahead of us," he continued

Tuff Gong is a record label that was formed by the group in 1970, and named after Bob Marley's nickname, taken from the moniker of the founder of the Rastafari movement, Leonard Howell, aka The Gong.

On September 13, a court in the United States ruled that the Universal Music Group rightfully owned the rights to a number of the Reggae King's most celebrated tracks, staving off a challenge brought by members of the Marley family.

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