Iron Maiden Settle “Hallowed Be Thy Name” Lawsuit

  • Axl Rosenberg

Iron Maiden are once again free to play the third most-performed song of their career.

The band, you may recall, were sued last year over their classic “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Apparently, six lines of lyrics from that track were taken from a song called “Life’s Shadow” by the group Beckett. No one disputes this — in fact, Steve Harris previously entered into some kind of legal/financial agreement with one of the writers of “Life’s Shadow,” Robert Barton — but suddenly the song’s other writer, Brian Quinn, and his manager, Barry McKay, claimed that they were owed a piece of the pie, too. As a result, Maiden were forced to drop “Hallowed” from their setlist.

Now The PRP reports that Harris and the other writer of “Hallowed,” guitarist Dave Murray, have reached an out-of-court settlement with McKay and Quinn, the terms of which cost Harris and Murray Harris and Murray £100,000 in damages, “as well as the legal costs of McKay and Quinn, which totaled £285,000, in addition to their own legal costs.” Somehow, though, that’s not the end of the conflict, with the article going on to note that “McKay however intends to pursue Harris, Murray and publishers Imagem London Limited on new allegations of copyright infringement with further details to be revealed once Harris and Murray are served with papers.”

So, naturally, Maiden and McKay have released conflicting statements with regards to the settlement.

Says Maiden:

“We do not believe that Brian Quinn was the one who wrote these six lines in question over 40 years ago as was claimed by Barry McKay. However due to escalating legal fees and the potential huge costs of a court case it was pragmatic to reluctantly settle this action with McKay for £100,000, a fraction of what he brought the action for. A serial litigator like Mr McKay would have foreseen this.”

Counters McKay:

“Brian Quinn did not settle for ‘a fraction’ of his claim. The claim form lodged with the High Court, stated that we were claiming a minimum figure of £200,000. Instead Harris/Murray instructed expensive lawyers who went on to cost them £300,000, as well as having to pay for every penny of my legal costs which were £285,000, on top of which they had already previously paid out £220,000 in damages and costs when they secretly settled with the other co-writer of ‘Life’s Shadow’ Bob Barton.

“If Andy Taylor and Rod Smallwood (managers of Harris/Murray/Iron Maiden) had provided accurate earnings figures for the two Maiden songs that infringed the ‘Life’s Shadow’copyright at the start of the claim (which they did not) and then offered Brian Quinn a fair settlement of around £250,000, Steve Harris and Dave Murray could have saved themselves around £600,000 in legal costs. Instead they wanted a fight and so they got one.

“To call me a ‘serial litigant’ is sour grapes. Harris and Murray and their managers appear to me to be bad losers. However, I am now also representing three other songwriters who also allege that Steve Harris and Dave Murray have profiteered from lyrics that they wrote. If that makes me a ‘serial litigant’ so be it. Musicians who have their intellectual property exploited by others who did not write or compose it are entitled to professional assistance.”

It’s funny to read a statement where a guy announces he’s gonna bring further litigation against the band right before denying that he’s a “serial litigant.” But obviously if these people are actually owed money, they should be paid. But I have no idea if they are owed money. This sure does seem like a lot of hullabaloo over six lines of lyrics, don’t it?

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