What the hell is wrong with Eric Clapton? He just sued a widow over an $11 bootleg. [UPDATED with new information.]

A 55-year-old German widow was cleaning the house and stumbled upon an Eric Clapton CD from thirty years ago that her husband purchased at a department store back in 1987. Not wanting it anymore, she listed it on eBay for €9.95, which is about CAD$14.

For some reason, Clapton was trolling German eBay and noticed it. He then sued the woman in a Düsseldorf court, pointing out that this was a bootleg and was thus illegal.

The woman said she had no idea that the CD was a bootleg, given that (a) she didn’t buy it, (b) it was one of the high-quality, good-looking bootlegs that were widely available because of a German copyright loophole back in the 80s, and (c) isn’t a Clapton fan. She appealed the injunction, but the court didn’t care.

Even though the CD was never sold and removed from eBay, the woman now has to pay legal fees of US$3,500. Should she continue to keep the listing up on eBay, she could face US$283,000 in fines and six months in jail.

Clapton is nuts. He has a history of racist rants and has become a whacko anti-vaxxer. See ya, Slowhand.

More here.

UPDATE: Yesterday (December 22), Clapton’s management kinda sort expressed regret for what happened. They released a statement to Clapton’s fanclub. (Via Variety)

“[W]hen the full facts of this particular case came to light and it was clear the individual is not the type of person Eric Clapton or his record company wish to target, Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the court. Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs.

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items from a personal collection, if following receipt of a ‘cease and desist’ letter the offending items are withdrawn, any costs would be minimal, or might be waived.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

“Germany is one of several countries where sales of unauthorized and usually poor-quality illegal bootleg CDs are rife, which harms both the industry and purchasers of inferior product. Over a period of more than 10 years the German lawyers appointed by Eric Clapton, and a significant number of other well-known artists and record companies, have successfully pursued thousands of bootleg cases under routine copyright procedures…

“Eric Clapton’s lawyers and management team (rather than Eric personally) identifies if an item offered for sale is illegal, and a declaration confirming that is signed, but thereafter Eric Clapton is not involved in any individual cases, and 95% of the cases are resolved before going to court.”

Bullshit lawyer-speak. Any publicist will tell you that this was handled horrifically and will end up staining Clapton further. Clapton–who has a personal net worth of US$450 million–need to fire those lawyers immediately.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

10 thoughts on “What the hell is wrong with Eric Clapton? He just sued a widow over an $11 bootleg. [UPDATED with new information.]

  • December 17, 2021 at 8:11 am
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    There has to be more to that story. Before this ever saw a courtroom, she would have had to have ignored or rebuffed multiple cease and desist letters from the lawyer. I’m thinking we’re missing some other context here.

    Reply
  • December 17, 2021 at 11:35 am
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    You know…there are a lot of musicians that I think are assholes, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying their music. With Clapton, his asshole-ness is definitely starting to affect my enjoyment of his work.

    Reply
  • December 17, 2021 at 2:18 pm
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    she could face US$283,000 in fines and six months in Clapton. In jail?

    Reply
  • December 17, 2021 at 8:43 pm
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    If Clapton doesn’t protect his intellectual property he will lose the ability to do so. It does not matter if it was $11, $11,000, or $11 million.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2021 at 8:18 am
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    Clapton is a self loathing miserable man who wants the whole world to be miserable with him.

    Wonderful Tonight is no longer my wife and I’s song.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2021 at 1:48 pm
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    Clapton seems to be a very miserable human being. I’ve lost so much respect for him, I can’t even listen to his music anymore.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2021 at 3:38 pm
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    “In Clapton “?
    Bad reporting…

    Reply
  • December 18, 2021 at 6:37 pm
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    And you would be correct. She got a cease and desist letter, and in response she told Claptons lawyers to stop bothering her and to sue her if they had a problem with that. Kind of an important part of the story, but I’ve given up on hoping journalists will report all the facts.

    Reply
  • December 20, 2021 at 8:30 pm
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    Holy cow! Let’s talk a bit about this article written by the nuts (I don’t think he will consider it offensive, since he refers to his subjects like that) “internationally know broadcaster” that I’ve never heard of called Allan Cross – now I heard about you for the first time, what an easy way to get known -just join the bashing evil-Clapton wagon! Your article is really weak man, if you’re half a writer of what Clapton is a musician, you wouldn’t need to promote your work over his…
    I was particularly amused by this bit of investigative accurate pseudo-journalism: “For some reason, Clapton was trolling German e-bay…” – yes… sure! Hahahahaha #1- I highly doubt that any multimillionaire rock star trolls German eBay to make a few bucks;
    #2- Clapton was never heard by you nor any of his representatives, to show both sides of the story, as good journalism does.
    #3- It’s highly unlikely that someone who put around 10 millions of dollars from his personal fortune to create a facility to treat drugs and alcohol addiction (the same addiction that made him do ONE crazy racist speech that went against everything he actually said and DID to promote black musicians and their culture before and after that episode) would chase widows for 4K;
    #4- Considering how lenient to bootleggers he has always been through his whole career, that makes absolutely non-sense he getting pissed of now;
    #5- Legal actions like that are very frequent, where representatives of artists go after people infringing copyrights, anyone who’s following what goes on YouTube, for instance, knows that. Even if Clapton is aware of what’s going on (which he probably doesn’t), there’s nothing legally or ethically wrong about an artist protecting their intelectual property.
    PS: I’m thoroughly against Mr. Clapton’s position about vaccines (he’s double vaccinated for those who still don’t understand) and his views on lockdown measures. About his “racist past” it simply doesn’t exist – there was one episode of a heavily self-destructive drugged and drunk Clapton talking a lot of BS 45 years ago, if you need an apology, there’s a pretty good one on his 2017 documentary Life in 12-Bars. Alan Cross, you’re welcome for my lesson in music history.
    PS 2: I don’t think that this will be even posted, let’s see how much the beacons of morality will value freedom of speech

    Reply
  • December 22, 2021 at 1:29 am
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    Let’s talk about the NATIONAL ENQUIRER , or the GUARDIAN , people buy them then say , did you hear about Eric Clapton ?? But they don’t,t read the small print ; for entertainment purposes only !!!
    The writers are not called BAD journalists !!
    Let’s all be adults here now . Have fun and read lots ,,,,,its always entertainment !!

    Reply

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