Historic Litigation Moves Forward with Fraud and Copyright Termination Claims Intact; Co-creators Introduce New Legal Team to Carry Case Forward
August 29, 2018: Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, the four co-creators of the revered band “Spinal Tap,” and the 1984 film “This is Spinal Tap,” (TIST), today celebrated the favorable ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee in their ongoing $400m lawsuit against French conglomerate Vivendi and its subsidiaries.
Harry Shearer, commenting on behalf of his co-Plaintiffs, said:
“We are pleased with the decision in our ongoing litigation involving the film ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ which allows all of our claims against Vivendi, StudioCanal and Ron Halpern, including the fraud claim, to proceed. We are also confident that we will adequately amend our claims against the defendant Universal Music, as specified by Judge Gee’s order, so we can move forward with those as well. The Court’s ruling makes clear that we can pursue damages both for breach of contract and fraud, including punitive damages, based on the defendants’ failure to properly account to us for our profits in connection with ‘This is Spinal Tap.’ It is equally important that we can pursue our right to recapture our copyright interests and other intellectual property rights in connection with the Spinal Tap film and music, so that we can control our own creative product and benefit from it, as we should have all along. We look forward to finally getting our day in court, at a trial, with the evidence that to date Vivendi has tried to hide from us.”
Further, Spinal Tap creators Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner announced that preeminent entertainment litigator Stanton “Larry” Stein and his team at Russ, August & Kabat, including Bennett Bigman and Irene Lee, have been engaged as new lead counsel in the creators’ ongoing litigation against Vivendi and its affiliated defendants over unpaid revenues, breach of contract, fraud, and ownership of intellectual property rights in the landmark “This is Spinal Tap” case.
Harry Shearer, commenting also on behalf of his co-Plaintiffs, said:
“We are confident that Larry Stein and his team are the right lawyers to lead our case to victory on the merits. I have known and worked with Larry for a long time. Larry is widely recognized as one of Hollywood’s top entertainment litigators and has a long history of successfully challenging self-dealing within giant media corporations such as Vivendi. Larry and his experienced team will help us through the next phase of this litigation to show that not only have we been deprived of fair compensation for our work, but that we are entitled to ownership and control over our film, music, and the Spinal Tap brand itself. I want to thank Peter Haviland and his team at Ballard Spahr for their great work in crafting our claims, and especially for preserving our important fraud claim that Vivendi has desperately tried, but failed, to have dismissed. We look forward to Larry and Peter working together to move this case into the discovery phase, where we can shine a bright light on Vivendi’s improper and fraudulent accounting practices.”
Larry Stein added:
“We welcome the opportunity to build on what Peter and his team have done and to get to the merits of what I am sure will be ground-breaking litigation in protecting valuable rights for not only these four talented individuals, but for all creative artists.”
Further details and a copy of the Plaintiffs’ Opposition to the Defendants’ Motions can be found at www.fairnessrocks.com
About The Film
This is Spinal Tap – produced on a shoestring budget, has become a cult classic since its first theatrical run, in 1984. The film has garnered international praise and acclaim, having been included in “best ever” lists such as The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made; Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time where it appeared on the “Just Too Beloved to Ignore” list; and the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list published by Total Film.
The band, composed of Shearer, Guest and McKean, performing as their beloved stage personae in the company of a rotating cast of percussionists willing to risk the kit (as so many of their predecessors have been accident prone), has toured the world multiple times since the film’s release. Hundreds of thousands of Spinal Tap sound recordings have been sold over the ensuing decades and the film has been released on a host of video formats down the years. Full-length Spinal Tap albums are still available for physical sale, download and streaming today.
29 August 2018