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Wednesday, December 16, 1998 Published at 03:19 GMT


Lloyd Webber wins Phantom battle

Lord Lloyd Webber wrote the music and Tim Rice the words for many stage hits

A court in the United States has thrown out a lawsuit which alleged that British musical producer Lord Lloyd Webber had stolen the music from one of his most famous songs from a little-known American folk singer.

The BBC's Emma Jones: "Ex-wife Sarah Brightman testified he wrote the tune for her"
The court decided he had not copied Phantom of the Opera from Baltimore songwriter Ray Repp.

A federal jury, who had earlier heard snippets of the two songs played on the piano in court, took only two hours to clear Lord Lloyd Webber of plagiarism.

Lord Lloyd Webber, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the lawsuit, was not in court but he issued a statement saying he had been "totally vindicated" by the verdict.

'A great day for the jury system'

His lawyers said in a statement: "This is a great day for Andrew Lloyd Webber, and for the jury system and copyright cases.

Sir Tim Rice: "There are some barmy things out there"
"If justice had not prevailed here, there would have been a floodgate of unfounded contingency cases against successful composers and artists, hoping for lucrative settlements."

Mr Repp looked dejected as his eight-year fight for compensation ended in defeat.

Entertainment journalist Tim Levell: "It's quite difficult to prove one song is directly linked to another song"
He had claimed that the theme song from the hit musical Phantom of the Opera was based on a song he wrote in 1978 called Till You.

Mr Repp had told the court: "I have no doubt whatsoever that's my song."

Lord Lloyd-Webber, who began working on the song in 1983, denied he had ever heard of Mr Repp or his song.


He said he had lifted the song for Phantom from his own composition, Close Any Door.

Lord Lloyd-Webber, who has had a string of hit musicals both in London's West End and on Broadway with Cats, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar, said he wrote the song at his home in Hampshire.

He said his former wife, Sarah Brightman, helped compose it but he denied it was influenced in any way by Mr Repp's work.

Mr Repp, who had been seeking unspecified damages, has written dozens of religious songs and has 11 albums to his credit. But the court heard that he had only made $78 from sales of Till You.

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