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Love Helps Universal Take Out Their Garbage
By Moses Avalon
(more articles from this author)
2001-03-19
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Garbage in equals Garbage out. An old motto takes on a new twist in the wake of the Courtney Love lawsuit against mega label Universal Music Group. Many are questioning the sincerity of labels who claim to be "behind you all the way," when signing the artist only to stab them in the back while standing there.

Cynics claim that Love doesn't have a prayer of winning because "I signed a bad deal" has never held up in court before as a reason to dissolve a contract. But Love's angle is based on the seven-year limitation that California law places on ALL service contracts. Most recording contracts last well over seven years, so there is much at stake here if Love kicks ass.

Case in point is the group, Garbage, who filed suit against Almo Records a UMD imprint, for "strong-arm tactics" and being all around bad dudes. It seems that Buch Vig and Co, when forming Garbage with Shirley Manson and signing to Almo, they had their president, industry veteran Jerry Moss, "keyed in." Meaning that as long as Moss remained with the label so would Garbage.

Now that Moss has left Almo, Garbage wants a walk. Except that UMD has pulled a rabbit out of the hat by acting on a clause from one of Manson's old contracts from when she was with a band on Radioactive Records, another UMD label. They claim that under that contract she is still obligated to perform for UMD even though that contract was for a different band with different material and over seven years ago.

It seems silly on UMD's part because even if they win their day in court with Garbage they will not be able to make Manson perform with Vig and Co under the Garbage name. So what do they win? Not much. And in light of Love's case, if she is successful in prevailing, Garbage lawyers will be able to use Love's precedent-setting judgment to free themselves completely from both contracts.

All the above suggests to me that UMD may settle with Love sooner than Love's critics have predicted. Not so much because they think she is right but because of the potential fallout of every other artist claiming that they are entitled to a release under the seven-year statue as well.

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it.


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