Edgar Wright’s action crime drama Baby Driver has been one of the hits of the summer, taking in just under $140m at the US box office – but now a lawsuit regarding the unlicensed use of T Rex song ‘Debora’ looks set to spoil the party at Sony Pictures.
Rolan Feld, son of the band’s frontman Marc Bolan, who won the rights to T Rex’s back catalogue in a lawsuit three years ago, has brought a suit against Sony, Media Rights Capital, Bambino Films and others behind the production of Baby Driver, claiming that they failed to clear the use of the song.
A complaint submitted to the US District Court in California reads: “Inexplicably, Defendants failed to obtain — or even seek — the permission of the composition’s U.S. copyright holder Rolan Feld.
“In the six weeks since Feld brought this infringement to Defendant Sony’s attention, Defendants have done little more than point fingers at one another — and they have neither apologised nor offered to pay Feld a reasonable license fee.”
Feld alleges that the first time he had heard of the song’s usage in the film was when he was contacted by a Sony Music representative requesting a license for the film’s soundtrack – “in other words, at least one division of Sony had no trouble determining Plaintiff was the rightful owner of the U.S. copyright in the composition,” the complaint continues.
Much of the film’s charm comes from Wright impeccably co-ordinating car chase scenes with classic rock hits. And in interviews, he has explained that clearing tracks came high-up on his production checklist.
“Even before the movie was at Sony, we had sort of quietly started clearing the tracks,” he told Variety. “Because, you know, if you’re going to do a movie called Baby Driver and try and use that song, you should approach them way ahead of time to make sure that that’s okay. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’ve made the movie and Simon & Garfunkel are saying, ‘Come on, pay up. We know you want this.’”
It remains to be seen whether Debora was one that slipped through the cracks.