Joao Gilberto wins Custody of his music as the case between him and EMI Music  was ruled in his favor

Bossa nova, legend and founding father, Joao Gilberto celebrated his 82nd birthday this month and will have more to celebrate as he successfully navigated through a court case to reclaim a number of recorded tapes. The court case pitted Joao Gilberto against EMI Music for custody of tapes that contained previously recorded material by Gilberto. This includes famous works such as “Chega de Saudade”, “Love, Smile and Flower” and “Joao Gilberto.”

Joao Gilberto

Joao Gilberto


The court ruling was executed by Judge André Gustavo. Interestingly, he was the same judge that presided over a previous court case in 1987, in which custody of the tapes went in the opposite direction, in favor of the British music label. Now the tapes will remain the exclusive property of Gilberto until another day of judgment takes place. The date for this is yet to be decided.

EMI have five days to deliver the material or will face disciplinary action. These actions would include paying a fine of $100,000 and having a search and seize operation being done at their headquarters.  

In the 1987 court case that saw Joao Gilberto lose custody of the aforementioned tapes the decision was made based on the claim that Gilberto could not adequately preserve the quality of the music on the tapes. However, decades later the Judge does believe that Gilberto would be able to use a third party company that could perform the preservation work with the same quality and specification of the company hired by EMI.  It is this belief that has resulted in the new ruling which favors the singer.

Unsurprisingly Raphael Miranda, the lawyer representing EMI Music was less than satisfied with the decision. “It’s like you buy a painting from an artist, pay for it and, 55 years later, this artist take the box back to redo the painting.