Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles have sued a concert footage archivist, accusing the man of violating their copyright after screening unlicensed Eagles footage at a Connecticut theater in October. In a suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, lawyers for Frey and Henley accuse William Shelley of charging admission to show a bootlegged concert of the “Hotel California” rockers, the New York Daily News reports.
The Eagles are not only seeking to reclaim their concert footage from Shelley, they’re also reportedly trying to seize his entire extensive archives. According to the Guardian, the Shelley Archives house more than 100,000 reels of 35mm and 16mm film, or more than 10,000 hours of rare concert footage, television shows, home movies and more. Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones are among the dozens of bands that feature in Shelley’s vaults, which the Long Island man started when he began filming concert performances in the Seventies.
According to the lawsuit, the Eagles first filed a cease-and-desist order against Shelley to prevent him from screening the bootlegged footage in October. After Shelley “refused,” the band’s lawyers took the matter to federal court. The Eagles accuse Shelley of attempting to “bolster his reputation as a purported music industry ‘insider’ with close connections and ties to many classic rock greats” and getting rich off the unlicensed footage of others.
This latest lawsuit continues a particularly litigious 2014 for Henley, a firm believer in copyright law. In June, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer criticized both Frank Ocean and Okkervil River. The former sampled the Eagles’ “Hotel California” for the Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape’s “American Wedding” without permission, while Henley prevented the latter for covering his solo “The End of Innocence” and issuing it as a free download.
“Mr. Ocean doesn’t seem to understand U.S. copyright law. Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it ” Henley said. As for the Okkervil River cover, “They don’t understand the law either. You can’t rewrite the lyrics to somebody else’s songs and record it and put it on the Internet. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t an improvement. We were not impressed. So we simply had our legal team tell them to take it down and they got all huffy about it.” Okkervil River’s Will Sheff responded by penning an op-ed about the song for Rolling Stone.
Henley also filed a lawsuit against clothing maker Duluth Trading Co. this past October because of their punny T-shirt that read “Don a Henley and Take It Easy.”