An obscure composer's plagiarism lawsuit against Andrew Lloyd Webber was reinstated by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Dec. 30, meaning the composer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera will have to stand trial.
The Appeals Court restored the copyright infringement claim brought by Ray Repp against Lloyd Webber in 1990, claiming that Lloyd Webber had stolen the melody of his 1978 religious song "Till You" for the title theme of The Phantom of the Opera. The suit was dismissed by a lower court. Lloyd Webber countersued, saying "Till You" was stolen from his 1969 melody "Close Every Door" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The judge in that case ruled that Repp's music was not taken from Webber's.
A statement from Repp's attorneys Cherry & Flynn said "Mr. Repp is delighted with the Appellate Court decision, and couldn't have asked for a better New Year's present. Mr. Repp is anxious to go to trial on his claim and seek damages for the theft."
Lloyd Webber's New York spokesman issued the following statement to Playbill On-Line: "The District Court found that no trial was necessary to dismiss Repp's claim that the Phantom Song copied Repp's 'Till You.' In reversing summary judgement, the appellate court merely found that a trial is required to resolve certain disputed factual issues. The appellate decision in no way resolves the ultimate issues and Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Really Useful Group remain confident that Repp's claims will again be dismissed as meritless after trial."
No date for the trial has been set.