Rock stars beware. A legal case involving the divorce of the former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and his Brazilian wife could decide how creative assets are split.
Hackett is facing a multi-million-pound legal action by his former wife over rights to some of the rock band’s most famous songs.
Hackett and his ex-wife, Kim Poor, a jewellery designer and artist who has designed award-winning album covers, were divorced last year after 32 years of marriage.
Poor has now issued High Court proceedings saying she is entitled to revenue from his share of classic Genesis songs from the 1970s. Her claim could amount to millions of pounds.
The case will be watched closely by musicians, authors, actors and artists who may be planning to divorce. Ayesha Vardag, a leading divorce lawyer, said it would help to clarify how the English courts treat the proceeds of past and future “intellectual property” accrued during a marriage.
In a ground-breaking case in California, a decision involving the case of Susan and Frederick Worth over rights involving the Trivial Pursuit board game established that copyright should be treated as community property and divided equally when a marriage ends.
Hackett was lead guitarist with Genesis at the height of its fame before leaving to go solo in 1977. The legal dispute centres on a firm which Hackett formed between 1977 and 2006 and which owns the copyright to his recordings and compositions.
According to the High Court writ, Hackett signed over all the rights in his work to the company, Stephen Hackett Ltd. All future rights to the copyright and all royalties due to him from Genesis songs were paid into the company.
In March 2006, the writ alleges, Hackett confirmed that he would be employed by the company for the next decade and it would receive the benefits of his activities.
Poor argues that Hackett has since revoked his instructions and asked for the royalties to be paid direct to him in breach of their agreement. Hackett’s lawyers say he has the right to receive the cash directly.
Hackett was unavailable for comment this weekend. Poor said she was trying to protect the company which she and her ex-husband jointly own.
© The Sunday Times, by David Leppard