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Larry Heard And Robert Owens Win Back Ownership Of Early Recordings
Christian Eede , August 29th, 2022 15:05

The Chicago house artists have been locked in a case against Trax Records over the recordings for a number of years

Larry Heard and Robert Owens, two pioneers of Chicago house music, have won their legal battle against early Chicago house label Trax Records over the ownership of some of their earliest recordings.

The suit, which first came to public knowledge in 2020, saw Heard and Owens allege that they had never been paid any royalties for some of their best known tracks, such as Heard's 'Can You Feel It' and Owens' 'Bring Down The Walls'. Both artists also alleged that Trax had never been assigned the copyrights for any of their songs, and subsequently sought damages of $150,000 per track, and a minimum payment of $1 million in total.

As The Guardian reports, all of the relevant parties have now "amicably resolved their disputes," in the words of Heard and Owens' lawyer Robert S. Meloni. He also revealed that the copyright – both for the master recordings and publishing rights – has been transferred back to both artists.

The two artists haven't, however, been awarded any damages in the settlement, because the original target of the lawsuit, Trax founder Larry Sherman, died in April 2020, and the current owners of the label did not have the money to pay any damages.

Speaking to The Guardian, Meloni said: "My investigation confirmed that Cain and Trax were impecunious and unable to pay money damages, so even obtaining a money judgment – which would have extended the case for many months – would have resulted in only a pyrrhic victory."

Owens described the feeling of the settlement as "beautiful", and told The Guardian that just regaining control of his recordings "gives [him] peace knowing that there is a clear road moving forward."

In a separate press release, Heard said that it was "great to be able to say that after a considerable number of years I now have control over my recordings and publishing following a settlement with Trax Records."