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1. Aretha Concert Spoils Hogged
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Talent Agent(s)
Defendants MTV Networks
Television Producer(s)
Viacom
Other Franklin, Aretha
Short Description Plaintiff is the company responsible for arranging and booking Aretha Franklin's live performances, who contracted with a television production company for Aretha to perform at Radio City Music Hall for "VH_1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin A Benefit Concert for the VH_1 Save the Music Foundation." According to the agreement, to which Viacom was not a signatory, Plaintiff was to be paid $150,000 plus proceeds from ticket sales and 40% of revenue from sales of CDs and DVDs of the performance. After the concert aired, Defendants failed to secure a distributor, and Plaintiff sued, alleging the failure was a breach of contract and a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Plaintiff also argued that Viacom's refusal to give Plaintiff master recordings of the concert was also a breach, as was Defendant's failure to pay royalties or account for sales, even if limited in number. The court found that Viacom was not a party to the original contract, and thus claims against it were dismissed, and that nothing in the contract required Defendants to provide Plaintiff with master recordings. Further, the court found that the agreement was entered in 2001, though Plaintiff claimed it wasn't finalized until 2006, and thus the breach claims regarding the failure to secure a distributor were time-barred as outside the 6-year statute of limitations. Nonpayment of royalties, however, was not dismissed, as the obligation was ongoing. Plaintiff's claims for breach of good faith and fair dealing were dismissed as duplicative of the contract claims, and promissory estoppel could not be maintained because a valid contract existed. All claims except royalty nonpayment were dismissed. - LSW


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2. Does Madonna Owe Money?
Highest Court M.D. Louisiana
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Film Producer(s)
Film Studio(s)
Madonna
Maverick Films
Music Manager(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiffs lent money to Madonna and her film company, Maverick Films, as well as various other individuals and entities associated with Madonna's film endeavors, which were in need of financing. After Defendants did not repay Plaintiffs' loans, Plaintiff sued all the parties for contract breach, unjust enrichment, detrimental reliance, unfair trade practices, and conversion. Maverick Films defaulted, and a default judgment was entered against them. (Various other procedural and evidentiary rulings were undertaken during 2009-2010, which are not discussed herein). On Madonna's and her manager's motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court found in their favor. First, her manager had not submitted to jurisdiction by appearing at Maverick's default hearing, because he contested to jurisdiction all along. Second, there was no jurisdiction over either Madonna or her manager, neither individually nor as corporate officers. Their personal presence within Louisiana was minimal, Madonna having performed there sometime in the 1980s, and their recent contacts with the state were all within their capacities as corporate officers, which does not subject them to personal jurisdiction as individuals. Furthermore, the court would not "pierce the corporate veil" and find jurisdiction over them personally, because Plaintiff did not adequately illustrate that their corporations were mere alter egos or vehicles by which Madonna and Co. perpetuated fraud. Though a default judgment was entered against Maverick, the cause was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction as to Madonna, et. al. - LSW


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3. Latin Music Manager Steal Clients?
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Booking Agent(s)
Music Manager(s)
Defendants Alvares, Marcelo
Margison, Richard
Vargas, Ramon
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The facts of this lawsuit are not uncommon. Defendants are well-known international singers Ramon Vargas, Richard Margison, and Marcelo Alvarez, who entered a management contract with Plaintiff, a music management company. As is common, Defendants were handled by specific individuals at Plaintiff corporation, and these individuals later left (or were fired by) Plaintiff to manage artists on their own. Defendants decided to stay with their respective managers and thus left Plaintiff's roster. When Defendants performed at concerts that had been arranged while still under contract with Plaintiff, Plaintiff sued, arguing they should have been paid commissions on these performances, even though the appearances occurred after the artists left Plaintiff. The artists argued the clause was inapplicable, because the individuals responsible for booking the gigs were no longer employed by Plaintiff. On the parties' motions for summary judgment, the court found that contract interpretation required findings of fact, as did interpreting industry customs for post-termination commissions. Defendants' argument that termination of Defendants' managers constituted termination of the contract between Plaintiff and Defendant was precluded because Defendants did not raise the issue early enough. After a trial on the merits, the court found for Plaintiffs for around $700,000. Industry custom within the world of opera agreed with Plaintiffs' position and Defendants did not offer conflicting evidence. Plaintiffs were owed commissions for performances arranged during the parties' contractual arrangement but performed afterwards. - LSW


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4. Connie Wants Old Contracts Back
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Francis, Connie
Defendants Universal Music Group
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff was the oft-troubled Connie Francis, whose unfortunate mid-century sexual assault has since caused years of mental health issues and some odd lawsuits. In this case, Francis sued her record label, Universal, for breaching provisions contained in a 1960s record contract that had since been rendered moot by subsequent agreements. According to the parties' original agreement, Universal was not allowed to include Francis's recordings on compilation albums without her permission, though later agreements plainly superseded this prohibition by "releas[ing] and discharg[ing Defendants] from any and all . . . covenants, agreements, contracts and promises" previously entered. When Francis sued Universal for including her recordings on compilations, the court found the release of prior contracts binding, and granted Defendant's summary judgment disposing of Plaintiff's complaint. Furthermore, Plaintiff was unable to show an appropriate calculation of damages. However, the court held that Plaintiff's count for underpayment of royalties was not time-barred regarding amounts earned by Defendants within the 6-month period prior to Plaintiff's complaint; the contractual limitation on Plaintiff's actions was six months, and thus damages within this period was allowed. - LSW


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5. Wu-Tang Claimant vs. Wu-Tang Clan
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Ghostface Killah
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
RZA
Wu-Tang Clan
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Ghostface Killah was once a prominent member of hip-hop luminaries Wu-Tang Clan, alongside RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty, and all da rest. This suit relates directly to Killah's activities in the Clan, particularly his co-authorship of songs in which he provided lyrics over RZA's production work. Plaintiff alleged that he was not paid appropriately by RZA, Wu-Tang, or the band's publishing entity, and sued for compensation. After a non-jury trial found that Killah was owed for his contributions to the co-authored songs, the court reduced his award by 25%, which was the amount determined in the artists' publishing agreement to be retained by Wu-Tang's publishing entity. The court initially found that Killah did not adequately allege RZA to be personally liable for the entity's activities, because no evidence was presented to show the company was RZA's "alter ego," but later found that Killah could amend his complaint to state claims against RZA personally for designating 50% of royalty income to himself as an unauthorized "producer's fee." - LSW


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6. Yodeling for Royalties
Highest Court W.D. Texas
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Defendants Antone's Records
Music Executive(s)
Record Label(s)
Other Walser, Don
Watermelon Records
Short Description Country musician Don Walser, known for his distinctive yodeling, signed an agreement with Watermelon Records, a little-known Austin-based country music record label, in 1994, only four years before the label went bankrupt and its assets were purchased by Defendant, Antone's Records, who, as luck would have it, later filed for bankruptcy itself. The latter bankruptcy underlies this dispute, brought by Walser's estate and family, alleging various causes of action against Antone's and associated entities, including breach of contract and fiduciary duties, fraud, and copyright infringement, requesting rescission, constructive trust, and piercing of the corporate veil. According to the court, it is undisputed that Defendants failed to tender appropriate royalties and royalty-statements to Walser, after assuming Watermelon's contracts. Though Plaintiffs were unable to state claims arising from Watermelon Records' bankruptcy and failure to pay Walser, the court allowed breach of contract claims against Defendants arising from their own failure to pay. The court found that Walser had performed fully under the agreement, but that Defendants plainly failed to live up to their part of the bargain, and did not cure their breach within 30 days of being warned by Walser's attorney; in this regard, Defendants were liable for around $30,000. Because monetary remedies were adequate, rescission of the fully-performed contract was not allowed, and, further, Plaintiff's claims for fraud and copyright infringement failed too. Further still, Plaintiffs were unable to show that any form of fiduciary relationship arose between Walser and the various record labels with whom he was contractually tied, inter alia, because Texas law has not found such a relationship between artist and label, and no relationship of trust otherwise existed. The court refused to hold the record labels' executives personally liable, finding that traditional doctrines like the "alter ego" test did not apply. Though most claims were denied, the contract breach claim resulted in a $30,000 award. - LSW


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7. No Doubt Enforces their Faces
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs No Doubt
Defendants Activision
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description When No Doubt agreed to license their likenesses for use in the "Band Hero" video game, they did not know the extent to which Activision, the game's developer, would utilize the computer-generated images (CGI) of the band members. No Doubt allowed Activision to use their CGI personas for advertising, packaging, etc., but Activision went much further, hiring lookalikes to act out the members' performances in order to create fully-functioning CGI characters that players could use in the game after "unlocking" them at various levels. No Doubt sued for violation of their publicity and deceptive business practices, and, regarding the contract they signed, fraudulent inducement, breach, and rescission. The state court initially removed the case to federal court saying Plaintiffs' actions were preempted by the Copyright Act, but the federal court disagreed and remanded back to state court; publicity rights were not synonymous with copyrights, since names and likenesses are not copyrightable at all, and the contract-related actions were also not copyright-related. Back in state court, Defendants filed an Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, which is a special motion, intended to protect First Amendment rights, that allows Defendants to dismiss claims that 1) relate to protected speech and 2) are unlikely to prevail at trial. Unfortunately for Defendants, the court sided with Plaintiffs. Regarding the publicity claims, the court found that life-like CGI versions of the band members were not "transformative," and thus protected speech, but were "conventional, more or less fungible, images" of the members that the band had the right to control. As to unfair competition claims, the court also found that Activision's use of the likenesses would confuse the public even if it was not "explicitly misleading," which some courts have required. Since Plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their claims, the Anti-SLAPP motion failed. - LSW


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8. Erre XI vs. Luny and Yankee
Highest Court D. Massachusetts
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Artist(s)
Music Producer(s)
Songwriter(s)
Defendants Daddy Yankee
El Cartel Records
LT's Benjamin Records
Luny Tunes
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Universal Music Group
Other Erre XI
Short Description Plaintiffs are a group a songwriters and producers who were, in various ways, involved in the songwriting or production of the album, "Luny Tunes Presents: Erre XI," which was an album, released by reggaeton production duo Luny Tunes, featuring a musical duo called Erre XI, which was assembled by Luny Tunes. Plaintiffs, based in Springfield, MA, were tapped by Luny Tunes to participate in the album's creation, and were flown to Puerto Rico to embark on the creative process. Plaintiffs allege that their work was not only central to the Erre XI album, but also an album by Daddy Yankee, and that, not only were they not paid appropriate royalties, but their work was falsely attributed to Yankee and Tunes. Plaintiffs alleged multiple causes of action against multiple defendants, including copyright infringement and vicarious infringement, infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract. In this opinion, the court denied Universal's motion to dismiss the emotional distress, vicarious infringement, and breach of contract claims, finding Plaintiffs' claims sufficient to require additional fact-finding. However, Daddy Yankee, and his associated parties, were held not to be within the personal jurisdiction of the court (specific or general), which refused to "pierce the corporate veil" and find Yankee's corporate activities were attributable to Yankee personally. - LSW


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9. Daddy Yankee Back in Court
Highest Court D. Puerto Rico
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Daddy Yankee
El Cartel Records
Record Label(s)
Defendants UMG Records
Universal Music Group
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Reggaeton mastermind, Daddy Yankee, and his associated music companies, reached a distribution deal with Universal Music, for a limited term of years. After the license term expired, Yankee's parties (Plaintiffs) informed Universal's entities (Defendants) that it had expired and ordered Defendants to cease distributing the albums subject to the license. When Defendants failed to do so, Plaintiffs brought the instant cause of action, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, copyright infringement, and other claims. The court held that, regarding the albums that were properly registered with the Copyright Office, Plaintiffs' copyright claims could proceed, but that state law claims, such as unjust enrichment, were preempted to the extent they sought the same relief sought in the copyright claims. However, Plaintiffs were granted time to amend their complaint accordingly. - LSW


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10. Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Legacy
Highest Court N.D. Texas
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Estate of Artist(s)
Financial Institution(s)
Spouse of Artist(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Financial Professional(s)
Other Davis, Sammy (Jr.)
Short Description Sammy Davis, Jr., was undoubtedly one of the most iconic musical stars of the twentieth century, and his death left behind piles of money, royalties, and assorted enforceable rights for his family. After his death, Sammy's wife, Altovise, formed a corporation with Defendants, including a financial institution and its named owner, to handle the royalty income, publicity rights, etc., for the deceased star. In forming their corporation, the parties agreed that Altovise would transfer her interests to the new corporation, but that after five years she would be given the assets back in return for a payment of $1. After the time limit was reached and she tendered the required payment, Defendants refused to remit the properties and interests to Plaintiffs, which include Altovise's estate and assorted corporate and financial entities. Defendants argued that Plaintiffs could not enforce the terms of the agreements because Altovise had previously materially breached the contract by withholding royalties. The court denied Plaintiffs' motion to strike statements made by various Defendants, which were relevant to Defendants' equitable defenses. However, on Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction preventing Defendants from continuing to exploit the contested assets while withholding payment to Plaintiffs, the court found that Defendants were indeed spending money belonging to the corporation, not paying Plaintiffs their 1/3 interest in the corporation's profits, and publicly declaring that Defendants owned all the corporation's assets. Defendants were enjoined from spending any more money or writing checks to anyone other than the court, from holding themselves out as owners of the assets, from selling or transferring shares in the company to anyone other than Plaintiff (or anyone at all). - LSW


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11. That Patent-Infringing Fergie!
Highest Court E.D. California
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Fergie
Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description One of only two patent infringement cases in The Discography, this case is, among other reasons, quite an oddball. The court struggled through Plaintiff's complaint to find the basis for his action, and, after uncovering Plaintiff's theories, dismissed the action entirely. It appears Plaintiff invented a work-out device and consulted with an outside company that assesses the feasibility of inventions regarding his creation. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff watched the music video for Fergie's "Fergilicious," and saw the Black Eyed Peas star using a device somewhat similar to Plaintiff's. Plaintiff sued Fergie and her record label, replete with spelling errors, alleging they'd violated some exclusive rights Plaintiff held to showcase the invention. The court held Plaintiff had not articulated any actionable legal theories: Plaintiff had no patent, so he could not sue for patent infringement; there was no contract, so Defendants didn't breach any agreement; and none of the elements for negligence were present. Defendants' motion to dismiss granted in its entirety. - LSW


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12. Stepney's Family Wants Royalties
Highest Court N.D. Illinois
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Trust of Artist(s)
Defendants UMG Records
Other Stepney, Charles
Short Description Charles Stepney was the head producer at Chess Records, the pivotal Chicago-based record label immortalized in the movie "Cadillac Records," for some years during the late 1960s and 1970s, after time as a staff producer. Under his agreement with Chess, Stepney was to be paid a 3% royalty on 90% of the records released containing only his material, and half that percentage on foreign sales. However, when he died in 1976, he had only been provided with two accounting statements, which should have been tendered twice a year. His rights passed to his wife through his estate, and his wife died in 2008, after which Stepney's children, in the name of his estate and their newly-created trust, sued UMG--Chess's successor-in-interest--for breach of contract and fiduciary duties and multiple equitable remedies. In this opinion, the court ruled only on three counts of the complaint, dismissing Plaintiffs' claims for breach of fiduciary duty, because no fiduciary relationship was alleged, and constructive trust, because it is a remedy and not an independent cause of action. However, Plaintiffs' claim for unjust enrichment was not dismissed. Other causes of action were not discussed. - LSW


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13. Akon Ignores Investment?
Highest Court N.D. Georgia
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Akon
Konvict Muzik
Music Executive(s)
Other Glowb
Short Description Plaintiff is apparently an investor that loaned $400,000 to a Konvict Muzik, a multifaceted music company co-founded by hop-hop artist Akon. Plaintiff signed a contract with the other co-founder, who was acting on behalf of one of the many limited liability companies operating under Konvict's umbrella. The money was loaned for the development of a hip-hop group called Glowb. The Defendants in this case included many different Konvict-related companies (and Akon himself), not just the company with which the contract was signed, even though the contract itself contained language limiting the agreement to the undersigned parties. Despite liberal pleading requirements, the court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss on the pleadings. Plaintiff's breach of contract action was dismissed because Plaintiff never signed a contract with most Defendants, and the signatory was not acting as Defendants' agent when signing. Conversion was dismissed because Plaintiff did not sufficiently allege that Defendants ever received or had actual possession of the loaned funds; fraud and unjust enrichment were dismissed for the same reason. Though it seems Defendants did indeed wrong Plaintiff, Plaintiff will need to learn how and whom to sue, if Plaintiff wants remuneration. - LSW


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14. Songwriter's Royalties in a Bind
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Financial Institution(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Pullman, David
Other Page, Gene
Short Description This lawsuit is one of several over the last few years involving the financial transaction of David Pullman, a somewhat well-known figure in the music industry for his role in creating so-called "Bowie Bonds," named after David Bowie, the artist who first used them. Bowie Bonds are investment vehicles wherein purchasers buy debt from recording artists, to be repaid, with interest, through royalty payments owed to the artist. This lawsuit appears to involve this same sort of transaction regarding the royalty interests of songwriter Gene Page. Page's family took loans from Plaintiff, a financial company that loans money to artists to be repaid from royalties, but was also involved, to some extent, with Pullman and his entities. Pullman's parties offered to investigate some suspect financial transactions between Plaintiff and Page's family, including a loan to a family member of Plaintiff's owners, and Plaintiff assigned to Pullman the rights to do so. After Pullman brought suit against Plaintiffs for numerous causes of action, including conversion, fraud, interference, civil conspiracy, and numerous equitable actions not specifically listed in this entry, Plaintiff sought to enforce an arbitration agreement contained in one, and only one, of the many loan agreements between Plaintiff and the Pages. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) found the arbitration agreement enforceable, and the parties submitted to arbitration, which ended in Pullman/Page's favor for over $1/2 million. This lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff to vacate the arbitration award, alleging no court of law ever found the agreement binding. Though the AAA had upheld the provision, the court agreed and concluded that no court of law had upheld it, and thus the arbitration was not binding. If a party objects to arbitration, the resulting award cannot be binding absent a judicial determination. The award was vacated, and a court must now determine whether arbitration is mandatory. - LSW


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15. Guy Mitchell's Royalty Collection
Highest Court E.D. Washington
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Trust of Artist(s)
Defendants Artists Rights Enforcement Corp. (AREC)
Other Mitchell, Guy
Short Description The Artists Rights Enforcement Corp. (AREC) is an entity formed to assist musicians and songwriters in obtaining the royalties they are owed from various music contracts, whether with publishers or record labels. AREC has been sued by a number of artists and their families alleging that AREC withheld royalties owed to them. In this case, the family trust established to handle the assets of American pop singer Guy Mitchell sued AREC for withholding royalties purportedly collected on the trust's behalf. AREC argued that the Washington court had no personal jurisdiction over them, because they were a New York-based company that did not have sufficient ties to Washington state. However, the court disagreed. Specific personal jurisdiction existed where Defendants created a "continuing obligation" to collect royalties on behalf of a Washington resident, even if no Defendant had ever entered Washington to create the obligation. Furthermore, the stated wrongs--such as misrepresentation and fraud--were made to a Washington resident, and thus Washington is where the harm was felt. Plaintiff met the requirements that the instant lawsuit "arose from" Defendants' "purposeful availment" of the state, and, further, exercising jurisdiction would not be unreasonable. - LSW


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16. Ex-Recording Artist vs. Usher and Alicia
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Arista Records
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Dre & Vidal
Dupri, Jermaine
EMI April Music
EMI Music
Film Studio(s)
Hitco Music
Keys, Alicia
La Face Records
Music Executive(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Songwriter(s)
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony Music
Sony/ATV Music
Toby, Ryan
Universal Music
Usher
Zomba Records
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The facts of this immense lawsuit--which involves numerous defendants--are somewhat unique. Oftentimes, unknown artists sue huge companies and successful artists alleging copyright infringement, usually with little-to-no evidence that the defendants ever knew of the plaintiff or plaintiff's songs. In this case, Plaintiff was a songwriter and recording artist who signed briefly with Alicia Key's record label, a subsidiary of J Records, and began recording songs to be released. After some of the songs were finished, the record label offered to buy some of her songs for use with other artists on the label, such as Usher. Plaintiff, recognizing that the agreements would divest her of all royalty and ownership rights--she'd be a "ghost writer"--refused the deal. According to Plaintiff, Defendants nevertheless used her songs on Usher's album, "Confessions," as well as with other artists on the label's roster. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, her song, "Caught Up," which was one that Defendants wanted to use, was nothing like the Usher song of the same name. The court compared both lyrics and melody between the two songs and found that, despite Plaintiff's allegations and undeniable claims of access, the Usher song was not copied from Plaintiff's. Perhaps the phrase "caught up" was copied, but that in-and-of-itself was insufficient to comprise copyright infringement. With the sole federal claim dismissed, the court declined jurisdiction over the remaining state claims, and Plaintiff's action was disposed of entirely. - LSW


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17. Roky Sues Indy for Acting Like a Major
Highest Court N.D. California
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Erickson, Roky
Songwriter(s)
Defendants Independent Label Collective
Mermis, "Long Gone John"
Sympathy for the Record Industry
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Roky Erickson, the infamous lead singer for the early psychedelic band, The 13th Floor Elevators, whose subsequent struggles with mental illness have been well documented, had a decent comeback in the first decade of the 2000s. In this case, Erickson, along with a co-writer, sued several entities well-known in the independent music world, including Sympathy for the Record Industry and its founder, Long Gone John, for breach of contract, fraud, and copyright infringement, arising from Defendants' nonpayment of royalties and failure to render an accounting. The court found in Plaintiffs' favor for around $80,000, which Defendants refused to pay. Plaintiffs levied property owned by Long Gone John, and received their judgment, but sued for attorneys' fees incurred in securing the judgment. John argued several theories for why Plaintiffs should not receive compensation, including that they should have engaged in settlement negotiations instead of trying so hard to obtain the judgment John was refusing to pay. The court, clearly, disagreed, and Plaintiffs were awarded $35,000 in attorneys' fees. - LSW


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18. "My Contract's Bad And I'm Gonna Be in Trouble"
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Angels
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiffs are the Allbut sisters, the two backing vocalists for The Angels, who had a massive hit with "My Boyfriend's Back." The sisters had not received royalties for the recording (they didn't write it so publishing is unavailable) since they repudiated the exclusivity provision in their contract in the 1960s. The court here found that, at least regarding royalty payments due within the previous six years, the doctrine of laches did not bar the suit, because Defendants could not show prejudice on account of the delay. However, most other claims were barred by statutes of limitation. - LSW


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19. Marley Artist: "Don't Use My Art!"
Highest Court D. Massachusetts
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Visual Artist(s)
Defendants Fifty-Six Hope Road Music
Music Publisher(s)
Zion Rootswear
Other Marley, Bob
Short Description An artist who created three images of Bob Marley sued Marley's estate and other associated entities for copyright infringement, when the images were used on T-shirts and other merchandise. Plaintiff alleges an earlier licensing agreement did not grant ownership in the images, and the current uses were infringement. Despite claims that Plaintiff put off bringing a lawsuit out of respect for Marley, the court held the suit time-barred for not being brought within the statutory period. - LSW


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20. Manilow Show Falls Apart
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Theatrical Producer(s)
Other Manilow, Barry
Short Description Though not directly involving Barry Manilow, this case is a classic contract breach lawsuit that illustrates many of the common issues and defenses in such cases. Defendant was a theatrical producer and was putting together a Broadway show called "Harmony," about Barry Manilow and featuring his music (presumably Defendant had Manilow's consent). Plaintiff loaned $100,000 to Defendant's LLC, which was formed to organize the performance. For some reason not explained, the show did not proceed and Plaintiff's loan was not repaid. When Plaintiff brought suit, Defendant unleashed an array of defenses to invalidate Plaintiff's claim. Defendant claimed the venue was inappropriate or inconvenient, that there was no personal jurisdiction, and that the contract was unenforceable according to the Statute of Frauds. On Defendant's motion to dismiss, the court found he had "purposefully availed" himself of the jurisdiction by transacting business there, so personal jurisdiction was appropriate; Plaintiff's chosen venue was the place of negotiation, so it was appropriate; the forum was not so inconvenient to the parties and witnesses as to necessitate overriding Plaintiff's choice of forum; there was sufficient evidence of "meeting of the minds" to render the agreement enforceable at this stage of litigation; and the contract was performable within one year, so the Statute of Frauds was inapplicable. However, Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment were also denied. The court found that the emails sent between the parties were insufficient to summarily establish that a "meeting of the minds" did indeed exist. Furthermore, it appears Plaintiff contracted with Defendant's LLC, not Defendant personally, so his action could not, on summary judgment at least, succeed against Defendant. - LSW


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