Eric Clapton backtracks on legal action against widow who attempted to sell bootlegged CD on eBay

Eric Clapton
(Image credit: Gareth Cattermole/Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Recently, Eric Clapton has been scrutinised and widely criticised for his decision to sue a woman for selling a bootlegged CD on eBay for €9.95. The action resulted in Clapton winning the case, and the woman left to pay both parties fees, which tallied up to a massive £2,889. Now, the musician's management have released a statement announcing that they will be waiving the sum.

Since the event, Clapton has come under widespread fire on social media for deciding to sue the 55 year old woman in the first place. His team have now clarified that he actually was not involved in the specifics of the case, and that the woman is in fact "not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target”.

The case took place on December 18, inside a Düsseldorf court. Reportedly, she was not aware the CD, titled Eric Clapton – Live USA, was recorded illegally, and cites that her late husband bought the disc at a department store in the 1980s. The woman also notes that the advertisement for the sale on eBay was only up for one day. 

The court allegedly decided to move forward with the case due to the woman's reaction to Clapton’s German legal team upon being told about the CD’s illegal status, to which she responded: “I object and ask you not to harass or contact me any further”, and “feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands”.

Eric Clapton's team have since released a statement over the matter to clarify the "widespread and often misleading press reports” relating to the case. 

It reads, “Over the past decade a number of well-known recording companies and artists, including Clapton, have engaged German lawyers to pursue thousands of bootleg cases flouting the country’s copyright laws.

“It is not the intention to target individuals selling isolated CDs from their own collection, but rather the active bootleggers manufacturing unauthorised copies for sale. If following receipt of a ‘cease and desist’ letter the offending items are withdrawn, any costs would be minimal, or might be waived.

“This case could have been disposed of quickly at minimal cost, but unfortunately in response to the German lawyers’ first standard letter, the individual’s reply included the line (translation): ‘Feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands’. This triggered the next step in the standard legal procedures, and the court then made the initial injunction order.

“Had she explained at the outset the full facts in a simple phone call or letter to the lawyers, any claim might have been waived, and costs avoided,” the statement said.

Reportedly, the judge had urged the woman to withdraw, but she refused and proceeded with the appeal, resulting in her having to pay the costs for both parties.

Since learning about the case, Clapton "decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the court". The statement adds, “Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.”

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.