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Why the lawyers' bills turned rock stars a whiter shade of pale.

Rock star Gary Brooker (left) was left A Whiter Shade Of Pale yesterday after losing a High Court battle over the copyright of his massive worldwide hit of 1967.

Mr Justice Blackburne ruled that Matthew Fish-er, who played the haunting Hammond organ parts on the Procol Harum record which sold 10 million copies, is entitled to a 40 per cent share of the musical copyright.

Fisher, a classically-trained musician who now works as a computer programmer in Croydon, had claimed a half share from Brooker.

But he was awarded the lesser amount as the judge found that although the Fisher contribution to A Whiter Shade Of Pale was "substantial", it was not as substantial as the singer's. The judge also rejected Fisher's claim for back royalties, estimated as high as pounds 1 million. But the singer, who still fronts Procol Harum, faces paying a large part of a legal costs bill esti-mated at around pounds 500,000.

Fisher claimed at a hearing last month that his solos and repeated theme were so important to the success of the song that he should get his share of the continuing royalty income.

Brooker and Reid said in a statement through solicitors that the repercussions of yesterday's judgment would be far-reaching.

"It will mean that any musician who has ever played on any recording in the last 40 years may now have a potential claim to joint authorship," they said.

Mr Justice Blackburne gave Brooker permission to appeal but awarded Fisher 90 per cent of his costs stayed until after the result of the legal challenge to his findings.

Because Fisher signed a no win, no fee deal, his solicitors can raise their final costs by 100 per cent, leaving the final total costs bill as high as pounds 750,000.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 21, 2006
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