Courtney Love Wins Right to Sue Universal

ByABC News
March 2, 2001, 7:54 PM

March 1 -- Courtney Love's dissatisfaction with the inner workings of the music biz took a step forward Wednesday, as a court allowed her to file a countersuit against Vivendi Universal, the parent company of her band's record label.

Universal Music Group is suing the Hole frontwoman for failing to deliver five albums promised in a contract the label says she willingly signed. Love is seeking to break that contract and reveal the "repressive and unfair working conditions" of the recording industry.

"Artists who have generated billions of dollars for the music industry die broke and uncared for by the business they made wealthy," Love said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "I'm driven by the misfortune of other artists who don't have my privilege and ability."

Standard recording agreements often lock in artists for many years, requiring them to bear many of their own production and marketing costs, taking a huge chunk of any financial returns they may enjoy, Love's lawyer, A. Barry Cappello, said.

Representatives for the actress and singer-songwriter appeared at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, where a judge granted their motion to file the countersuit.

A spokesperson for Vivendi Universal, the world's biggest music company, was not immediately available for comment but in legal papers dismissed Love's suit as being without merit and inflammatory, designed to attract media attention.

Music and legal experts call Love's contract with Universal a standard industry agreement.

But Cappello said the case is taking aim specifically at the industry's practice of locking artists into long-term contracts that extend for much longer than allowed in other businesses, like television, film, and sports.

In 1987, the record companies lobbied legislators to pass an amendment to the Labor Code Section 2855 that applies only to recording artists and allows record companies to sue recording artists for damages if the artists do not fulfill their original contract.