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By: Barely Legal Radio  09-12-2011
Keywords: Legal Advice, Free Legal Advice

music business Archives – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice « Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones has ruled in a very important case involving what happens if you don’t vigorously pursue your royalty claims against companies that you feel owe you money. Her decision says basically  that the  Jackson Sisters (a 70s disco group) waited too long to bring allegations within their lawsuit filed on Dec. 21, 2007. Jones said a former lawyer for the women, Albert Davis, knew as late as Dec. 19, 2003 that his clients had grounds to sue UMG, yet the complaint was not filed until more than four years later.”It you haven’t sued them, they have no obligation to you,” Jones said. For more

This doesn’t mean that the members of the  UMG were twirling their mustaches as they refused to pay out royalties to deserving artists. They claimed they had a good faith dispute as to whether this money was owed in the first place. After time, equity demands that people (and even large corporations) be allowed to move forward on their good faith beliefs so that they can engage in predictable business without worrying about who’s lying in wait to get them. If the Disco Sisters knew that they were entitled to royalties but waited until it was “worth it” to sue several years later the court sees that as unfair on it’s face. It’s called laches or “sitting on your rights.”

I went through the same exact issues with former members of my band a few years ago. In 1989 two ex-members entered into an agreement that traded their future royalties for immediate consideration of what we thought was of much greater value than the future royalties. Over time I (with the help of the current members) was able to increase the value of these catalog songs substantially. After 13 years of steady growth,  the ex-members decided to sue on the grounds that the deal we made in 1989 was invalid, or perhaps didn’t take place at all according to their testimony. After 13 years, however, the law will not let you suddenly claim that you want a share of something you should have claimed 13 years prior. It’s called “pouncing.” You lie in wait, and when you think it’s worth it, you pounce on your prey. The idea is that people would do more business and invest more in their property if they knew it was not vulnerable to ancient disputes.

The ex-band members suit didn’t go anywhere because 13 years was ample evidence that the deal did exist and even if it didn’t, it had no merit based on the laches defense. However, for me there was more to consider. There was truth to the fact that when they agreed to the terms, none of us would have dreamed that the material would ever be worth more than the two or three hundred dollars a year it was generating at the time.  Given that scenario, I offered to include them in future royalty earnings and today they all share equally in any material with which they were connected. 

This Superior Court decision  in the Jackson Sisters case upholds the legal notion that pouncing is unfair even if you only waited 4 years, a far cry from the 13 years in our scenario but my advice to UMG now that they have had a victorious lawsuit that preserves this legal defense for the future and vindicates them for their seemingly harsh position on this, they should take the high road and see to it that the Disco Sisters are cut in on some future royalties so they can save face and carry on without bitterness, which is unhealthy. 

Even though I would have prevailed in court easily there is arguably more satisfaction in taking an opportunity to end this bitterness which is especially strong with people remotely connected to a high profile part of the entertainment business. They are constantly asked if they are “getting paid” for their previous work. If they have to continually explain the concept of laches every time they are asked about it by friends and relatives, sooner or later they are going to explode all over you. Sometimes it’s more profitable to be a fence mender than a mustache twirler. 

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09-12-2011

Uncategorized Archives page 2 of 7 – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice « Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice

Is it that offensive to these people that musicians should get paid for mastering their chosen instruments and making the sacrifices necessary to become a professional. Does he also agree that waiting until midnight with a brick in your hand is a “creative solution” to the problem of having to pay for a plasma TV as well.


09-12-2011

copyright law Archives – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice « Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice

Regarding damages, however, Friedman should not be able to recover more than the reasonable statutory or even actual damages because he’s arguable suffered only the damages from not being compensated for the proceeds from the sale of the items not covered by the Fair Use Doctrine, plus attorney fees. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.


09-12-2011

Uncategorized Archives – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice « Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice

John is a rare breed, and we should celebrate him, but it would be bad advice for me to tell a student not to sign this agreement to get into film school. So a student signing one of these adhesive contracts has remedies to invalidate parts of them that are unfair. Uncategorized Archives – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice «Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice.


09-12-2011

Fair Use Doctrine Archives – Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice « Barely Legal Radio – Free Legal Advice

Since Kung Fu Records is a Corp. it cannot represent itself so Vandals bassist Joe Escalante filed a motion with the Court to allow him, an attorney accepted to practice in California, to be accepted to practice in Delaware for the sole purpose of filing the motion to transfer venue back to California.