Hopes of Bob Marley’s family crushed at Court ruling by NY judge

Attempts by Reggae legend Bob Marley’s family to obtain copyrights to some of his best-known recordings have been ruined by a new York judge.

Judge Denise Cote ruled that Universal Music Group (UMG) owns the copyright to five albums which the star had recorded between 1973 and 1977 for Island records. Marley's greatest hits disc Legend is the best-selling reggae album ever.

Marley, full name Robert Nesta Marley and born in Jamaica in 1945, died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. His widow and chidren have sought millions in damages for alleged attempts by UMG to “exploit” the star’s recordings.

His family had accused the company of intentionally witholding royalties from their company Fifty-Six Hope Road Music. They added the company failed to consult with them on licensing decisions, such as the use of Marley’s music for ringtones.

The albums in question included Catch a Fire, Burnin', Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibrations and Exodus, which were recorded by Marley with his band The Wailers.

They include some of his best-known songs, including I Shot the Sheriff, One Love and No Woman, No Cry.

On Friday, however, Judge Cote ruled that Marley's recordings were "works made for hire" as defined under US copyright law.

This, she said, entitled UMG to be designated the owner of those recordings as the parent company of Island Records.