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The Jesus And Mary Chain Are Suing Warner Music Group
Christian Eede , June 15th, 2021 23:13

Jim and William Reid are asking for over $2.5 million in damages due to alleged copyright infringement

The Jesus And Mary Chain are suing Warner Music Group (WMG) for copyright infringement and declaratory relief.

As Pitchfork reports, the lawsuit, put forward by the group's Jim and William Reid, was filed on June 14 in a California federal court. In the lawsuit, the Reids and their attorney are said to argue that WMG has refused to terminate its copyright ownership of the band's early work, including their 1985 debut album Psychocandy.

The Reids are asking WMG for at least $2.5 million in damages, and refer to Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976 in their lawsuit. Section 203 gives authors the right to ask copyright holders to end grants of copyright ownership 35 years after a work's original publication.

With this in mind, on January 7, 2019, the Reids sent a notice of termination to WMG for five albums: Psychocandy, 1987's Darklands, 1988 compilation Barbed Wire Kisses, 1989's Automatic, and 1992's Honey's Dead. The notice also included various singles and EPs released over the period of those albums' original release.

Some of those singles and EPs are reported as having had effective termination dates of January 8, 2021, while Psychocandy's termination date was January 22, 2021, according to documentation included within the lawsuit.

However, in a December 2020 letter to the Reids, an attorney for WMG label Rhino, which put out the records, responded: "WMG is the owner of the copyrights throughout the world in each of the sound recordings comprising the Noticed Works, and the Notice is not effective to terminate WMG's U.S. rights."

The attorney's letter said that the original agreements that the Reids and their bandmate Douglas Hart signed in the 1980s meant that they "never owned any copyrights in the recordings which [they] could terminate."

The Reids' lawyer, Evan S. Cohen, who has been helping a number of artists bring cases for copyright infringement against Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, said in a statement: "[WMG] has refused to acknowledge the validity of any of the Notices of Termination served by The Jesus And Mary Chain, and has completely disregarded the band's ownership rights. Despite the law returning the U.S. rights to the band, WMG is continuing to exploit those recordings and thereby wilfully infringing upon our clients' copyrights. This behaviour must stop. The legal issues in this suit are of paramount importance to the music industry."

It's not yet known when the lawsuit will be dealt with.