Johnny Rotten Loses Lawsuit Over Use of Sex Pistols Music in TV Series - Rolling Stone
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Steve Jones, Paul Cook Rebuff Johnny Rotten’s Criticisms of Sex Pistols Series

The pair recently won a legal dispute against Rotten that allowed licensing requests to be authorized on a “majority rules basis”

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"It has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations," said Steve Jones and Paul Cook.

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UPDATE:  John Lydon and his former Sex Pistols bandmates, Steve Jones and Paul Cook, have continued to spar over the upcoming biopic series, Pistol, after Lydon lost a lawsuit over the use of the band’s music in the show. Lydon (better known as Johnny Rotten) criticized the verdict and series on his website at the end of August, saying, “I am the lead singer and songwriter, front man, image, the lot, you name it. I put it there. How is that not relevant? It is dumbfounding to me. It is so destructive to what the band is and so I fear that the whole project might be extremely negative. How can anyone think that this can proceed without consulting me and deal with my personal life in this, and my issues in this, without any meaningful contact with me before the project is announced to the world.”

In a new statement shared via Blabbermouth, Jones and Cook claimed that Lydon was well aware of Pistol, and was offered the chance to be involved and meet with director Danny Boyle and show runner Craig Pearce, but he refused. The pair also pointedly noted that the Sex Pistols’ album, Never Mind the Bollocks, was largely a collaborative effort and not the work of just one person.

“John Lydon sold his rights to control the use of these songs in the 1990s in return for money,” Jones and Cook said. “The majority rule agreement existed as a result — so no outside party could dictate the use of the band’s music. And to have a mechanism in place if one member was unfairly blocking the decision making process — which is what happened in this instance.”

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The Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook have bested their former bandmate, John Lydon (better known as Johnny Rotten), in court and will be allowed to license the Sex Pistols’ music for Danny Boyle’s upcoming series, Pistol, Variety reports.

A judge in London’s High Court upheld a 1998 agreement that gave band members the power to authorize licensing requests on a “majority rules basis.” Pistol has the support of both Cook and Jones, as well as the band’s original bassist, Glen Matlock, and the estate of late bassist Sid Vicious — more than enough to override a Lydon veto.

“We welcome the court’s ruling in this case,” Jones and Cook said in a statement. “It brings clarity to our decision-making and upholds the band members’ agreement on collective decision-making. It has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations.”

A lawyer for Lydon did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

Cook and Jones brought their lawsuit against Lydon back in July, after the frontman refused to grant FX permission to use the band’s music in the show. Lydon had reportedly referred to the series — which is based on Jones’ 2018 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol — as “disrespectful.” An early filing by Lydon’s lawyer also objected to Lydon’s depiction in the book, saying it presented him in a “hostile and unflattering light,” and highlighting a description of Lydon as “the annoying little brat with the great bone structure who’s always asking for more.”

Pistol was announced earlier this year, with Boyle tapped to direct and executive-produce the six-episode limited series. The show will star Anson Boon as Lydon, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, Toby Wallace as Jones, Loui Partridge as Sid Vicious, and Jacob Slater as Cook.

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