Lyndard Skynard Tour Info Must Be Turned Over

Ronnie Van Zant Inc. et al. v. Artimus Pyle et al., No. 1:17-cv-03360 (S.D.N.Y. June 2017)


The legal entities and estates for founding late Lynyrd Skynyrd band members are seeking a permanent injunction blocking the production of a film about a plane crash that killed some of the band’s original members.


Following the plane crash, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd went on a 10-year hiatus, which ended once the surviving members reunited for a tribute tour. Judith Van Zant Jenness, widow of Van Zent, brought suit amid the reunion tour, which ended in a consent order laying out the details of all future Lynyrd Skynyrd events and their post-breakup image.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet ordered that the legal entities for the late band members must produce any available tour lists and information regarding Lynyrd Skynyrd shows that followed the 1988 agreement. The film company is arguing that the band has been violating the agreement for years. Judge Sweet ordered the information to determine whether ex-drummer Artimus Pyle and Cleopatra Films are in compliance with the agreement.

The plaintiffs are currently in the process of developing their own film about the band.

Musicians Considered "Employees" For Tax Purposes

Matter of Columbia Artists Management LLC (Commissioner of Labor), 2013 NY Slip Op 06043 (3d Dep't Sep. 26, 2013).

A New York appellate court held that a music management company and tour promoter is liable for unemployment insurance contributions on its payments to musicians who perform on tour at the musical productions, even though the company considers the musicians "independent contractors."  Laborers/"loaders", however, are not considered employees.

Green Day's Use Of Illustration During Concert Was Fair Use, But Attorney's Fees Denied

Seltzer v. Green Day, Inc. et al., No. 11-56573 [D.C. No. 2:10-cv-02103] (9th Cir. Aug. 7, 2013).

The 9th Circuits affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, but vacated the attorney's fees award, in an artist's action alleging violations of the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act relating to the rock band Green Day's unauthorized use of an illustration ("Scream Icon") in the video backdrop of its stage show.

The Court found that use of the illustration in the video backdrop was a fair use under the Copyright Act: it was transformative, the illustration was a widely disseminated work of street art, the illustration was not meaningfully divisible, and the video backdrop did not affect the value of the illustration.  As to the trademark claims, the artist failed to establish any trademark rights.  In vacating the attorney's fees award under the Copyright Act, the Court found that even though defendant was successful on their fair use defense, the plaintiff did not act objectively unreasonably ("there is simply no reason to believe that Seltzer should have known from the outset that his chances of success in this case were slim to none.").

'Beat It' to Promotor's Claims Against Jackson Estate

Allgood Entertainment, Inc. v. Dileo Entertainment Entertainment & Touring, Inc., et al., No. 09 Civ. 5377 (S.D.N.Y. opinion & order June 29, 2010).

"This case is about whether or not Michael Jackson, through his alleged manager Frank Dileo, agreed to perform a concert with the plaintiffs, AllGood Entertainment, Inc. and AllGood Concerts, LLC, and then later reneged on this agreement in order to perform a different concert with the defendants Anshutz Entertainment Group, AEG Live, LLC, and AEG Live NY, LLC. Plaintiffs allege breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and fraud by Frank Dileo and his management company, Dileo Entertainment and Touring, Inc., and allege tortious interference of contract on the part of Anshutz Entertainment Group and the other AEG entities; Plaintiffs also seek a permanent injunction. Both sets of defendants have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the reasons below, the tortious interference, fraud, and permanent injunction claims are DISMISSED."

More R. Kelly Drama

The R. Kelly saga continues, with the filing of a complaint in New York Supreme Court, New York County, by R. Kelly's "tour director" alleging breach of contract arising out of defendant's alleged failure to pay for Plaintiff's services. Plaintiff seeks damages of $75,000.

[Trevanna Entertainment LLC v. Rowe Entertainment Inc.; filed, 2/29/2008; No. 08-103180]

Ne-Yo You Didn't!

Ne-Yo, who was cut from R. Kelly's tour, filed suit in Los Angeles on Dec. 31 against Rowe Entertainment for alleged breach of contract. According to Entertainment Weekly ("Monitor", Issue #974 - Jan. 18, 2008), Ne-Yo claims he was "fired for getting too much attention".

A simple Google search for "Rowe Entertainment" indicates that the defendant is no stranger to litigation.

Apologies for the late report -- west coast readers (or for that matter, any reader) feel free to send tips along!

Ramble On...

Robert Plant asserts that the upcoming Led Zeppelin performance (Ahmet Ertugen Tribute Nov. 26 in London) will NOT be the launching ground of a Led Zeppelin tour.

I suppose when you make enough money on album sales (exclusively in the physical realm, no less!), public performance on the radio (what city doesn't have a Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd channel? WNCX baby!), & merchandise etc....AND you haven't recorded new material as a band since at least 1982's "Coda"... you can turn away a gold-mine...?!

Wannabe...Our Distributor?

OTCS can't believe we missed this one:

Victoria's Secret, the women's lingerie retailer, will be the EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTOR of the Spice Girl's soon-to-be-released (Nov. 12) "Greatest Hits" compilation (EMI).

Not sure this is as ground-breaking as last week's Madonna/Live Nation deal, or the Radiohead In Rainbows name-your-own-price model, but an interesting example of a major label seeking revenue from alternative sources. However, OTCS questions how many men will walk into a Victoria's Secret just to buy the album? How will EMI promote this to customers (e.g., men) who do not regularly shop - for either apparel or music - in Victoria's Secret? Victoria's Secret clearly is not the same type of retailer as Starbucks, who draw in a much more diverse demographic of customers to purchase albums on their HearMusic label.

Also interesting, what cut is Victoria's Secret taking on album sales? Or maybe they get their cut on the up-coming Spice Girl's tour? Talk to me people...