Great Eric Carmen Post on Regaining Raspberries' Legal Rights

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Bill, Apr 6, 2006.

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  1. Bill

    Bill Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern Shore
    (From Eric Carmen website message board, posted by the Man Himself):


    Once upon a time, in a sleepy little town called New York City, there dwelled a man of great charm and few scruples. Let's call him Vittorio. One day, a tape containing four songs written and produced by four young lads from the faraway Land of Cleve, found it's way to the desk of suave Vittorio who, upon listening to it, swore he could hear the magical jangle of a thousand cash registers, and decided to sign our unsuspecting lads to the most unconscionable of all the unconscionable kinds of contracts ever devised by the music industry to relieve artists of as much money as possible, should they ever earn any. It was called a "Production Deal." In addition to the 'Production Deal," he felt it was only fair that, since he had discovered them, he should also have a lopsided share of their publishing royalties. Vittorio flew our boys to New York and dangled dreams of recording contracts in front of them and, alas, being inexperienced in these matters, the boys took the bait. The boys did get to record, and even enjoyed some initial success but, as fate would have it, never quite achieved their dream. They returned to the Land of Cleve and broke up in frustration. But sly Vittorio still owned their publishing, because contracts do not end when bands break up. Soon after, the most foolhardy but stubbornly tenacious of the four young lads, let's call him Eric, had written a new batch of songs and landed yet another recording contract. He, too, met with great initial success but was beginning to wonder what lay beneath Vittorio's charming facade. One day, Vittorio came to Eric and asked him to sign some papers.He said he wanted to negotiate a new deal with him. Eric read the papers and was a bit confused. The papers asked Eric to recognize two new companies, called Camex and Camerica, and to agree that these were one and the same as CAM USA, the company for which Vittorio worked, and to whom Eric was originally signed. Eric asked why he needed to sign these papers and was given, what he deemed, an insufficiant answer, so he didn't sign them. Shortly thereafter,Eric moved to the Land of Lost Angels and hired a new attorney named Milt. One day Milt called to say he had seen an ad in an entertainment business publication called Variety that seemed a bit odd. In the ad, CAM thanked Vittorio for all his years of service and announced that they had split up some six months ago. Eric was stunned. "Who am I signed to?" he wondered. He immediately called Vittorio and posed just that question. Vittorio told him it was "just business" and it "meant nothing" but Eric wasn't so sure. He asked Vittorio to let him see the books. Vittorio asked if he needed money and prepared to write him a check. Eric said he still wanted to see the books. Vittorio refused. Eric asked his agent to find him "Wyatt Earp in a business suit." His agent suggested a high powered music business attorney named Elliot. Eric hired Elliot to look into the matter and they soon found that CAM and Vittorio had indeed split up, and they had done one more thing. They had split up Eric's copyrights as well. CAM had retained some, but they had given a large number of them to Vittorio's new companies Camex and Camerica, and some they had split up fifty- fifty. Eric recalled a clause in his contract that said that the copyrights could not be assigned to any other company unless it was "UNDER SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT AS THE ORIGINAL COMPANY." Since CAM was owned by an Italian firm, and Camex and Camerica were owned by Vittorio, assignging the copyrights to the new companies would be a breach of contract. Moreover, Vittorio had tried to renegotiate Eric's publishing deal while reprenting that HE WAS STILL NEGOTIATING ON BEHALF OF CAM. That's fraud. Eric and Elliot filed a $10,000,000 law suit aginst Vittorio and his companies for breach of contract and fraud and another $10,000,000 suit for punitive damages. Over the next year or two, Eric ran up $100,000 worth of legal fees and was no closer to getting Vittorio into court. Because the contract had been signed in NY, legal action had to be pursued in NY. This meant hiring NY counsel, flying back and forth for depositions and much time and inconvenience. Eventually, Elliot left because he feared that even if Eric won, Vittorio might be "uncollectable." That means all the money might be in Swiss bank accounts with Vittorio's wife's name on them. Eric was depressed. All that time, all the royalties, all that money spent on lawyers seemed to have been for naught. But, just when things looked bleakest, out of the forest on a silver steed rode Sir Fred of Cleve, Eric's younger brother, who, as luck would have it, was an attorney. Sir Fred mounted the battle and for six more years they pursued the vile Vittorio. Finally, two weeks before the case was to go to court, Vittorio asked Sir Fred "What does your brother want from me?" Sir Fred replied "He wants your blood." Vittorio recoiled in horror at the tone of Sir Fred's statement. And his lawyer undoubtedly told him it was possible that, if the case got to court, he could lose. The next day, Vittorio's lawyers called to work out a deal. Eric wanted his copyrights back. Just the copyrights. And he wanted to be sure that any money he earned in the future would not find it's way into the pockets of Vittorio. Vittorio agreed and papers were signed. The four lad's former record company began releasing product on a new format called the CD, but alas, the other three were still signed to Vittorio under their DREAD PRODUCTION DEAL. Vittorio kept all their money. Once again, Eric had to sue Vittorio and eventually, reluctantly Vittorio agreed he would have to pay Eric. But he continued to collect the money owed to the other three lads and refused to pay them until..... One day, as if by some sort of kismet, one of the other lads, let's call him Wally, somehow found his way, quite accidentally, to the SAME LAW FIRM ERIC HAD HIRED to go after Vittorio, and finally, after thirty years, Wally regained his copyrights. When the boys got back together, they hired the firm to try and secure the copyrights of yet another of the boys. Let's call him Dave. Well, that brings us to today. The boys have rekindled their friendship, regained the rights to their songs, done a small tour and are busy putting together a new CD of their live performance in the City of Lost Angels. The attorney representing them is from the same firm where "Wyatt Earp in a business suit" still practices. Vittorio has moved to back to Europe. There are rumours that his wife is in an instituion. Celine Dion sold twenty eight million copies of an album containing one of Eric's songs. Il Divo have recorded it again and have sold millions more. This time, the money did not go to Vittorio. All is well in the Land of Cleve.


    This story is fictional.
    Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental
     
  2. Good for Eric. Look to my signature for wisdom . . .
     
  3. Mike

    Mike New Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Hunter Thompson never said that. Check snopes.com.
     
  4. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    Location:
    City of Angels
    What a wonderful story. Goes to show that if you fight like a MF'r, and can hang on, you can win!!!

    And that LA show rocked hard, it will make a great CD!
     
  5. Emilio

    Emilio Forum Resident

    This is what the record business does to young musicians when they are so naive and unexperienced they even write write a song saying they're not in it for the money, they just want a hit record. Then later they discover someone else was in it for the money they were making and try to get it all back.
     
  6. reechie

    reechie Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Well, y'know...you may not be in it for the money, but eventually, you're gonna need some.
    ;)
     
  7. I checked Snopes but couldn't find it. Point me in the direction.


    EDIT: Found it. "The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason." Close, but different.
     
  8. DCW

    DCW been a-boogeyin' since I ditched the stroller.

    Yeah, but this fictional guy named Eric wrote a very real song that is one of the most covered in the world, and he wasn't seeing a penny for it. Need aside, there's a moral imperative in there somewhere.

    Besides, everyone could do with some "Hey Deanie" royalty cash.

    Gotta love it when the good guys win-especially if it's the Raspberries. The best epic battle from the '70's since "Star Wars."
     
  9. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    Location:
    City of Angels
    If you are a good guy and want to win you can. It takes years, lots of work, planning and waiting.

    The trick to it in any business is to not be drinking and doing lots of drugs. You need to be sober and clear headed. That part is just not possible for so many.
     
  10. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Stars In You Eyes Can Be Blinding

    Every year there's a new crop of young rockers, skinny guys with guitars and cool hair, who get stuck in these awful deals because they want it so bad. The problem is the demographics of the biz: by the time most musicians have the suss to avoid the fleecing, they're too old to interest the powers that be. The only reason it didn't happen to me is that no project I was ever involved with as a principal ever got anywhere; otherwise I'd be a really bitter old git. I was a really naive young lamb, with my gold-top Les Paul, Spanish boots and a pair of butterfly-patched flares...

    Cheers
    Bruce

    p.s. Every so often I stumble across a name from the glorious past of Rock'n'Roll, who I assume would be retired in sybaritic splendour in Monaco or something. It usually turns out they're slaving in an office somewhere, or driving a delivery van or something. Or, in the scariest cases, still playing dingy s**tholes to half-interested lowlifes.
     
  11. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    It's good to see a Stan Polley-type can be defeated. The Badfinger book details the classic way to rip off a band.

    Michelle Shocked kept her publishing when she signed her contract. Even then, Polygram tied her up in legal red tape for 2-3 years cause they tried to get her to give them up. She was able to beat them in court by using the constitutional amendment against slavery--Polygram said that she had to continue to record for them, but they weren't going to pay her or put the music out until she gave up her publishing. I don't think they'll try that move again.
     
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