A British court has taken up residence in Havana to decide who owns the UK publishing rights to 14 of Cuba's best loved songs - including some of those featured on award-winning 1997 album Buena Vista Social Club.

US-based label Peer Music claim its legitimate copyright on a number of songs composed between 1930 and 1959 has been unlawfully taken over by the Cuban state-owned company Editoria Musica De Cuba (EMC).

Proceedings initially began in London, but failed video link technology prompted Mr Justice LINDSAY to take the court to Cuba, where evidence could be more effectively heard.

PETER PRESCOTT QC, defending EMC, alleges the contracts issued by Peer Music purposefully exploited poor, uneducated musicians who were signed up for "at most a few pesos and maybe a drink of rum".

The first witness to take the stand was EVELIO LANDA, 83, who composed hit song CHA CHA CHA. He gave evidence for EMC and insisted he had never even received an advance from Peer Music, despite signing a contract.

Peer Music maintain the US Trade Embargo made it impossible to carry out financial transfers, and all money owing was paid into holding accounts for the musicians or their heirs.

The proceedings are considered an important test case which could set a precedence to resolve the ownership of thousands of tunes across the world.