COURTNEY CAUSES HOLE LOTTA PROBLEMS FOR UNIVERSAL

Love has won the right to file a counter-suit against Universal...

COURTNEY LOVE has won Round Two against DAVID GEFFEN and the world’s largest record conglomerate in a LOS ANGELES court battle that could have massive implications for the whole record business.

Love threw down the legal gauntlet in December 1999, saying she would no longer record for Universal’s Interscope label. Yesterday (February 28), Love won the right to file a counter-suit against Universal, alleging that she was coerced into signing away her rights, including ownership of her music. Vivendi Universal called Love’s lawsuit a “meritless, inflammatory diatribe” in court documents. In January, Geffen Records filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, the principal members of the band Hole, claiming the group still owes Geffen five albums under a 1992 agreement.

“Artists who have generated billions of dollars for the music industry die broke and uncared for by the business they made wealthy,” Love said in a statement.

The central argument of Love’s legal case is that long-term record contracts are much longer than the seven-year legal limit in other comparable industries, such as television, film and sports.

As reported yesterday on NME.COM, Love told the Los Angeles Times, “I could end up being the music industry’s worst nightmare: a smart gal with a fat bank account who is unafraid to go down in flames fighting for a principle. Look, you show a music industry contract to any attorney in any other business and their jaw just hits the floor. Somebody has to put a stop to this.”

The Superior Court suit filed by Geffen claimed that Doll Head Inc, which owns the exclusive recording services of Love and Erlandson, repudiated the contract based on a California labour law limiting personal services contracts to seven years.

Love has been outspokenly railing against the music industry for more than a year, claiming rights to the cash awarded to Universal from MP3.com, wrangling over how much the label had made from Hole’s music, and branding major labels “pirates” at the Digital Hollywood conference last year.

In LA on Wednesday, an industry executive who insisted on anonymity in exchange for frankness, blasted back, “Outside of Love being a celebrity, who gives a shit? There are no good guys in this, it is rich people wanting more, and record corporations liking the existing deal.”

He was also doubtful of her ability to fight the case to the Supreme Court: “You have to remember she may have her widow’s pension from Nirvana and her movie deals, but rich people spend a lot of money. She’s bluffing if she thinks she can outspend Universal. She should shut up and settle.”

Geffen is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction barring the band from recording as Hole for anyone else.

At press time, Universal Music Group in the US had not responded to NME.COM’s requests for comment.