Grisman sues…everyone

Grisman Music on iTunesWe recently told you about the law suit filed by David Grisman’s Dawg Music (Acoustic Disc) label against online video sharing site YouTube.com. It appears that’s not the only lawsuit he’s filed recently. He’s also suing Universal Music Group and Warner Music for contracting to sell his music online through digital download services without first consulting him, or paying the expected royalties.

What’s more, he’s extended the suit to include eight online download services which have distributed the music provided to them by Universal and Warner. The eight include Apple’s iTunes, AOL Music Now, Buy.com, Microsoft’s MSN.com, Napster, RealNetworks’ Rhapsody, WalMart.com, and Yahoo Music. He finds them guilty by association. That’s going to be a hard sell in my opinion because these services always pay to the label, who then distributes royalties to the artist. It seems to me his complaint should be with the two labels he signed contracts with to distribute his music.

The filing claims that “irreparable injury” has been done to Dawg Music by this situation and Grisman is seeking $150,000 for every work whose copyright was violated. Taken as a whole and spread across all the defendants, this would equal millions of dollars.

It seems Grisman has a contract with Universal and Warner, but his complaint is that they took on themselves authority that wasn’t granted to them by the contract. I’ve seen some pretty vague wording in some record contracts offered to artists by the labels that would give the label the right to “all future media” or some such. This could be one of the cases. I think Grisman needs to focus on his contract with the labels in question. I really don’t think he has any case against the online retail outlets.

  • ryanfbaker

    I wonder – did the concept of digital downloading exist when he signed the contract? All (or most) record company contracts do include the clause you mention, applying to something like “all media in existence now or in the future” for exactly this reason. What exactly did David think that meant? Enhanced CDs?