The Hon. Gary A. Feess, Judge of the United States District Court sitting in Los Angeles, California, has entered a default judgment against Rick and John Brewster of the seminal Australian rock band THE ANGELS for their wrongful appropriation of eleven songs written by Alan Niven, a songwriter and the former manager of GUNS N’ ROSES and GREAT WHITE. Niven had also briefly managed THE ANGELS, securing them their last major label deal in the United States. The Court found that the duo’s acoustic side project, the BREWSTER BROTHERS, had wrongfully used Niven‘s compositions, some of which were released in three different versions. The judgment also applies against Flashpoint Music Pty Ltd., a music publisher associated with Harry Vanda, the famed producer of AC/DC‘s early work.
The Court awarded damages for sales through Apple‘s iTunes service and issued an injunction against any further sales of the compositions in the United States by the Brewsters. The Court further ordered that Rick Brewster return to Niven two guitars wrongfully in his possession, one of which was used in the GREAT WHITE video “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. Finally, the Court ordered that the Brewsters and Flashpoint pay attorneys’ fees and costs to Niven‘s attorneys, Karish Bjorgum, of Pasadena, California.
Niven, who originally hails from New Zealand and now resides in Arizona, said: “I am delighted that the United States courts have seen fit to recognize and uphold my rights in my songs, and that the Judge has sent the message that it is not acceptable to appropriate the intellectual property of others, or wrongly profit thereby.
“I sincerely hope the Court’s judgment stands as a warning to the Brewsters as regards their business practices. Dealing with them has caused me, for over ten years, much unpleasantness, stress and strain. I look forward to moving forward and putting them permanently well behind me in the rear view mirror.”
Niven‘s attorney Eric Bjorgum said: “I am very happy that Mr. Niven can put a stop to the distribution of these recordings in the United States and that he can move forward with this unique body of work. The Court’s ruling required that it grapple with some esoteric issues of international law, and we feel the Court struck the appropriate balance between respect for the Defendants’ Australian domicile and protection of Mr. Niven‘s property.”