Bob Marley ringtones going to court

LONDON, England, August 31, 2007 – A deal offering Bob Marley’s classics such as “Buffalo Soldier,” “Redemption Song,” and “One Love,”,  as ringtones on Verizon Wireless phones are headed for the law courts.

The Marley family said the deal announced Tuesday between Verizon and Universal Music Group for access to Bob Marley’s music was done without the family’s permission.

The mobile deal is one of several recent digital-related moves to promote Bob Marley as Universal Music Group celebrates the 30th anniversary and re-release of the hit album “Exodus.”

Spokesman for the Marley family, Chris Blackwell, said that he was approached by Verizon a few months ago for permission to access the music to use it as ringtones exclusively on their phones.

He said because the company wanted to use the music and Bob Marley’s image exclusively on its product, it amounted to an endorsement.

However the company disagreed. The regarded it as a straightforward deal where the family would be paid the usual royalties for ringtones sold.

Verizon has since negotiated a deal with Universal Music Group with has rights to the Marley catalogue.

The family said they will sue Universal Music Group and Verizon Wireless.

Universal Music Group has called the complaint “meritless”.

“UMG has not received any suit from the Marley Estate,” UMG said in a statement.

“Moreover, claims made in a press release issued today (Thursday) by Palm Pictures are meritless. Specifically, we are offering Bob Marley ringtones through Verizon in accordance with the terms of a long standing contract between Bob Marley and UMG.”

Palm Pictures is run by Blackwell who was responsible for pushing Bob Marley into the public spotlight.

Verizon has not commented.