July 19, 2018
James specialised in copyright and media law from an early stage in his career. Spot him in the picture taken in 1975 as Hawkwind inked their deal with Atlantic Records. (Image courtesy of James Ware).
In addition to Hawkwind his early clients included Marc Bolan, Aswad, Joe Strummer, Rough Trade Records, Pan's People and Virgin Records amongst others.
James joined the Virgin Group as a director to set up and head its legal and business affairs department. He then went on to head up CBS’s European music publishing division before joining Davenport Lyons. A long time partner at Davenport Lyons, James left the firm in 2005 to set up his own firm in Gray's Inn.
Although Davenport Lyons later turned into a rather different firm, while James was there it had its feet solidly in the media industries. Jointly founded by “Sam” Lyons (1910-1978), it was a leading West End firm working in the broad spectrum of the entertainment business, largely devoted to popular music and show business enterprises. From the 1960s onwards, the firm participated in a number of important music copyright infringement cases. Sam himself gained a certain notoriety when he agreed to represent Christine Keeler who he strongly felt had been unjustly treated by the establishment.
At Davenport Lyons James acted for a wide range of clients in the entertainment sector many of whom he still represents. Key cases in which he was closely involved included the precedential case brought by Gilbert O’Sullivan against Warner Bros. Records in respect of the sampling of “Alone Again Naturally” by Biz Markie. The judgement made the front page of The Wall Street Journal.