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[01 June 2001]
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"Courtney Love vs. RIAA News"

WHAT IS 'RIAA'?

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a group of major labels associating for power lobbying, publicity, and members' general benefit. RIAA members are major record labels such as Capital, RCA, UMG Universal Music Group, and MCA.

WHO IS COURTNEY LOVE?

Courtney, for those unfamiliar, is a pop rock artist with major and independent label backing. Courtney's band Hole is signed to Geffen Records, since absorbed by Interscope Records. Love is also a self-professed ex-junkie and ex-prostitute, and owns the Nirvana song catalog, making her de facto "president of Geffen Records".[RS 870; 25]

WHAT'S GOING ON?

Love filed suit against Geffen and UMG in March, seeking dissolution of her recording contract. Originally Love declined to record for Interscope, and signed with Geffen. When Geffen merged into Interscope under UMG, Love says, Interscope executives let Hole's latest album, Celebrity Skin, die.

HOW DOES THIS EFFECT ME?

At the center of Courtney Love's lawsuit is the seven year contract on which the present industry model relies. If Courtney wins, some of the fundamental fabric of artist - record company relationships will change.

THE NUTS & BOLTS

Under California labor laws, no one can be forced to sign a personal service contract for a period longer than seven years. Yet, the standard record contract promises one or two records, and has options for up to seven - which can last up to fifteen years or more. And, after seven years, the statute of limitations runs out for the artist to file a lawsuit. Convenient, right?

The RIAA got an amendment to the Section 2855 of the California Labor Code, so they can break the seven year rule with recording artists. And, record labels can sue their artists for "future lost earnings" if the artist breaks the contract. This is the law that resulted in the GooGoo Dolls being sued by their label. The Dolls ended up owing the company over $1million, after a world tour and a platinum record.

Courtney Love is also suing for stricter codes for assigning artist contracts in mergers and take overs.

The third thrust of Love's lawsuit is demanding accountability in record company book keeping. Love says labels use "dubious accounting practices" which defraud artists and don't pay royalties on record club records.

ARTISTS IN THE MIX

Most artists are concerned with industry consolidation and the impact of the Internet and digital revolution. Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, and Alanis Morissette have spoken in Congress on the need for rockers to represent their own interests.[RS 870; 25] Love has received encouragement from Michael Stipe, the Dixie Chicks, U2, Morissette, Bush, Prince, and Q-Tip.[RS 870; 33]

COURTNEY'S CLOUT

Courtney maintains she's in an excellent position to battle record labels and take on the industry. She owns the Nirvana song catalog; she inherited a lot of Kurt Cobain's fortune. She's a stay-at-home mom and actress and artist. She has courage, conviction, and tons of free time to devote to her battle.

CHECK IT OUT

Don Henley and Sheryl Crow are building the Recording Artist Coalition, which provides a voice by and for the recording artist in Washington D.C. Love is calling on artists to form a Union, like musicians and screen actors have. SAG (Screen Actors Guild) has a pension plan and retirement homes. AFM (American Federation of Musicians) has pension and burial plans, and group health and life insurance.


Cordially,

George McClure, President
McClure & Trowbridge Publishing


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