Iron Maiden

Legal Dispute Over Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed By Thy Name”, Etc. Settled Out Of Court


Awhile back Iron Maiden essentially retired performing one of their most famous songs, “Hallowed Be Thy Name“, due to a legal dispute brought against the band’s bassist Steve Harris and guitarist Dave Murray.

At the heart of the dispute was that “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was said to have lifted a number of lines from an early 1970s track titled “Life’s Shadow,” credited to Robert Barton and Brian Ingham (aka Brian Quinn). The song was written in 1969 by Quinn and was later recorded by Barton with his then band Beckett and released in 1974. Harris in particular was shown to have been a fan of the group.

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The Iron Maiden track “The Nomad” was also involved in the dispute for a similar manner. Further complicating the matter was a copyright dispute between Barton and Quinn, in which Barton allegedly claimed all the publishing of the song to himself after making what were said to be “immaterial changes” to the song. Barton himself was said to have then went on to secretly settle with Harris and Murray in 2012.

In a new press release sent out by attorney Barry McKay, it has been revealed that the latest matter was settled out of court on October 31st, 2017 in favor of McKay, who was acting on behalf of Brian Quinn. It was alleged that Harris himself earned some £2m in publishing on the track since 1982.

Harris and Murray initially disputed the plagiarism charges brought against them, in part attempting to defend themselves by saying that the lifted lyrics were originally meant to serve as guide lyrics and that original recording schedules didn’t allow them to change them. As a result of the settlement, Harris and Murray paid damages of £100,000 as well as the legal costs of McKay and Quinn, which totaled £285,000, in addition to their own legal costs.

With the settlement behind them, Iron Maiden are once again in the clear to perform both “Hallowed By Thy Name” and “The Nomad” in the future. McKay however intends to pursue Harris, Murray and publishers Imagem London Limited on new allegations of copyright infringement with further details to be revealed once Harris and Murray are served with papers.

For their part, the Iron Maiden camp stated:

“We do not believe that Brian Quinn was the one who wrote these six lines in question over 40 years ago as was claimed by Barry McKay. However due to escalating legal fees and the potential huge costs of a court case it was pragmatic to reluctantly settle this action with McKay for £100,000, a fraction of what he brought the action for. A serial litigator like Mr McKay would have foreseen this.”

McKay responded in kind:

Brian Quinn did not settle for ‘a fraction’ of his claim. The claim form lodged with the High Court, stated that we were claiming a minimum figure of £200,000. Instead Harris/Murray instructed expensive lawyers who went on to cost them £300,000, as well as having to pay for every penny of my legal costs which were £285,000, on top of which they had already previously paid out £220,000 in damages and costs when they secretly settled with the other co-writer of “Life’s ShadowBob Barton.

If Andy Taylor and Rod Smallwood (managers of Harris/Murray/Iron Maiden) had provided accurate earnings figures for the two Maiden songs that infringed the “Life’s Shadow” copyright at the start of the claim (which they did not) and then offered Brian Quinn a fair settlement of around £250,000, Steve Harris and Dave Murray could have saved themselves around £600,000 in legal costs. Instead they wanted a fight and so they got one.

To call me a “serial litigant” is sour grapes. Harris and Murray and their managers appear to me to be bad losers. However, I am now also representing three other songwriters who also allege that Steve Harris and Dave Murray have profiteered from lyrics that they wrote. If that makes me a ‘serial litigant’ so be it. Musicians who have their intellectual property exploited by others who did not write or compose it are entitled to professional assistance.”

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