Polydor Germany lawyer Stefan Belfert disclosed during a seminar held as part of the POPKOMM conference here Aug. 24 that Cretu and his record company, Virgin Germany, had settled out of court with Polydor and BMG/Ariola over unauthorized use of choral recordings on the Enigma album "MCMXC A.D."
The dispute arose when Munich-based choir Kapelle Antiqua recognized its recordings of Gregorian choral works on Enigma tracks. The group sued for damages, claiming Cretu had infringed upon its "right of personality" by distorting the records sampled on the "Sadeness Part I" and "Mea Culpa" album tracks and singles.
The choir's suit stated that the group felt "personally offended" by the "misuse" of its work and demanded a written apology in addition to financial compensation.
Though no figures are being revealed, it is understood that the bulk of the money paid to Kapelle Antiqua is in recognition of the infringement of its "right of personality". Lesser sums have been paid to Polydor and BMG/Ariola for the unauthorized use of master recordings.
Kapelle Antiqua, which recorded for Polydor's MPS label in the '70s, was able to demonstrate that parts of its work were sampled on "Mea Culpa".
BMG/Ariola, which owns the worldwide rights to samples used on "Sadeness Part I", says it was not difficult to prove its property had also been used without permission. Company lawyer Christian Klein says, "Each human voice has its own characteristics which cannot be exactly reproduced. By means of frequency analysis you can obtain a graphic chart which is rather like a fingerprint."
Meanwhile, Virgin has now acquired authorization for the retrospective use of the Polydor and BMG/Ariola masters and has officially apologized to the original artists. No copyright infringement was involved in the case, since the Kapelle Antiqua recordings are in the public domain.
[Reproduced without permission from Billboard magazine]