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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

'What's law got to do with it?': Tina Turner sues tribute act

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'What's law got to do with it?': Tina Turner sues tribute act

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Turner's lawyers are reportedly seeking to rely on European 'right of personality' laws

Tina Turner is reportedly seeking to sue a German-based tribute act because she appears too similar to Turner.

Tribute artist, Dorothea ‘Coco’ Fletcher, who is around 50 years’ younger than Turner, has an unofficial tribute act based in Germany called ‘Simply the Best’.

It is reported Turner’s lawyers believe Fletcher’s image in marketing materials is so similar to Turner, it could confuse fans who may believe Turner is involved in the show.  

Media, entertainment and intellectual property lawyers, Collyer Bristow, said the cause is unlikely to keep tribute acts off the UK stage.

Partner, Howard Ricklow, commented: “Tina Turner has turned to her ‘private lawyer’ in Germany demanding an unauthorised tribute act remove its posters for fear that the German public may mistake the lookalike for the real thing.

“In asking ‘what’s law got to do with it’, Tina Turner is hoping to use European ‘right of personality’ laws to determine how her image is used in public. Whilst much of European copyright law applies in the UK, there is no such right in the UK. Actions in the UK rely on ‘passing off’ laws”.

Ricklow added: “Whilst it is ‘simply the best’ for music fans to see the original artist, it’s not always possible to artists and fans to ‘stay together’. Most bands and performers leave tribute artists alone or endorse and occasionally participate in performances. Artists who write their own songs benefit, with venues paying royalties to the PRS for distribution to the songwriters”.

He said: “The ability of artists to stop tribute artists is not straightforward, but generally the fans will need to have been confused or misled about who they were seeing with the promoter in this case saying “only a chronically stupid person is likely to confuse a tribute artist with the real thing”.

“However, if a tribute act moves from live performances to recorded or broadcast outlets, different rules will apply as would be the case if the artist has registered a trade mark protecting their name.”

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