Our case against Vivendi is simple, if perhaps a little shocking.
It’s been 33 years since This Is Spinal Tap was released.
Yet we, the creators, have been told that global music sales from the soundtrack album total just US$98.
We’re also, apparently, only entitled to share US$81 (between us) from global merchandising sales.
This shocks us, given Tap’s enduring popularity.
So, Vivendi – it’s not a big ask. Just show us how you’re exploiting our creative work and pay us a fair share.
If you’re a fellow creator, the information on this site may be of interest.
The rights campaigners listed here may well be able to help you.
29 September 2017: Last night, the U.S. District Court in California rejected the Motion by Vivendi to dismiss the $400m lawsuit brought by legendary band “Spinal Tap” co-creators, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner.
The four co-creators, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, and the members of their legal team, welcomed the long-awaited court decision.
The Court concluded that the “Co-creators are intended Third Party Beneficiaries of the 1982 Agreement” [P8 Para 2]. However since the original filing was brought in the names of 3 of the 4 co-creators’ loan out companies, rather than by the co-creators individually, alongside Christopher Guest, the Court has granted Shearer, Reiner and McKean leave to amend to add themselves as co-plaintiffs going forward [P9 Para 3]. The principle behind the litigation therefore remains steadfast.
Harry Shearer, commenting on the ruling said: “Vivendi thought we would be made to go away. Well, not today, not tomorrow, nor the next day. England’s loudest band will be heard. But today is a good day not just for us, but for all aggrieved creative artists.”
“This ruling is an important victory,” said Peter Haviland, trial counsel for the four Spinal Tap co-creators. “It ratifies a critical contractual right for artists: even in studio-drafted contracts containing a ‘No Third Party Beneficiary Clause,’ artists may be determined by a Court to be third party beneficiaries who have the right to sue for wrongdoing, notwithstanding such contractual clauses. The Court has invited us to amend our complaint to clarify the individual rights of each of the co-creators, and we will do so promptly. We will also be adding further facts to highlight Vivendi’s history of fraud in this case, and to address equally important issues of copyright reversion and so-called ‘works for hire’.”
Christopher Guest added: “We’re doing the right thing, and most importantly, we are setting a precedent for similarly aggrieved artists who can’t afford to do this themselves. We’re sending a message not just to Vivendi, but to the so-called Hollywood accounting cabal as a whole: treat creators from the outset with genuine fairness and respect.”
Further details including Judge Dolly M Gee’s Motion to Dismiss Ruling (CV16-7733-DMG (ASx)) plus the full litigation timeline can be found at www.fairnessrocks.com.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Motion Picture
This is Spinal Tap (TIST), produced on a shoestring budget, has become a cult classic since its first-of-many theatrical runs in 1984. The film has garnered international praise and adulation, 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 stages personas (in the company of a rotating cast of hard-luck percussionists), has toured the world multiple times since the film’s release, and hundreds of thousands of Spinal Tap sound recordings have been sold over the ensuing decades. Full-length Spinal Tap albums are still available for hard-copy sale, download and streaming today. On occasion, their songs have been covered by other artists.
Merchandise licensing – Trademarks
The film and band, as a result of the co-creators’ endeavours, established unique characters, a screenplay, songs, sound recordings, a seminal short film, and the potential for thousands of licensed products – which Shearer, on behalf of all four, is currently seeking to protect through his application to the US Trademark Office to reclaim the Spinal Tap brand.
The $400m Complaint
Guest, McKean and Reiner joined Shearer’s filed complaint on 9 February 2017, claiming breach of contract, fraud and anti-competitive business practices in respect of Vivendi’s management of rights in “This is Spinal Tap” and its associated intellectual properties. Shearer filed his initial Complaint in October 2016. Their joint Complaint continues before Judge Dolly M Gee in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, labelled Case No. 2:16-cv-07733.
Vivendi filed its Motion to Dismiss on 28 February 2017. Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed their response to the Motion to Dismiss on 30 March 2017. Today’s ruling has been awaited since then.
30 March 2017: Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, the co-creators of the revered band “Spinal Tap” and joint plaintiffs in the $400m Complaint against Vivendi, have answered, in Court pleadings filed March 29, Vivendi’s threat to sue Harry Shearer and its attempt to dismiss the creators’ claims. Unbowed by the Defendants’ intimidatory representations, the plaintiffs remain united and resolute in their determination to expose and challenge anti-competitive practices and fraudulent accounting in respect of their creations.
The co-creators deride as “grossly inappropriate” Vivendi’s threat to sue one of the plaintiffs, Harry Shearer, for exercising his inalienable right to terminate his grant of copyrights under US statute. The plaintiffs point out that the other three co-creators/joint plaintiffs in fact followed Shearer’s footsteps by issuing similar copyright termination notices over the songs, film, screenplay, and sound recordings.
Shearer commented: “Vivendi’s distracting and obfuscatory conduct is entirely in line with our experience of the Corporation to date – failing to provide participation statements; declaring piddling revenue share from exploitation over 33 years, particularly Tap music & merchandise; and neglecting or abandoning the protection of Tap trademarks worldwide. As a result, we have seen a deluge of unofficial Spinal Tap-branded apparel, dishware, pet accessories, and god knows what else. And perhaps the greatest irony? Learning that the only party against whom Vivendi threatens to enforce copyrights, is me!”
Shearer continued: “That Vivendi suddenly appears concerned about certain exploitation opportunities would be laughable if it were not so disingenuous. The hypocrisy on display is unreal. On the one hand, Vivendi claims Spinal Tap and all its associated collateral have hardly made the thinnest of dimes. On the other, they hold the rights with the ferocity of a death grip, all the while refusing to enforce them, excepting the recent threat targeting me. Seemingly Vivendi is prepared to allow anyone but the creators to enjoy enrichment from these works.”
Christopher Guest added: “It’s absurd that Vivendi now claims our creations were “works for hire” and that Harry’s termination (notwithstanding we have all given notices) places a “cloud over the movie and music copyrights” which “threatens Studio Canal’s ability to distribute Spinal Tap (sic) and to otherwise enjoy its lawful rights to the movie”. Vivendi is re-writing history and showing a complete lack of understanding of copyright law. The band, the characters, the distinctive logo and most of the songs performed both live and televised all existed long before any agreement to produce a motion picture.”
Further details and a copy of the Plaintiffs’ Opposition to the Defendants’ Motion can be found at www.fairnessrocks.com .
The Motion hearing is set for 9.30am, May 5, 2017 in Courtroom 8C at US District Court, Central District of California, 350 West 1st St, Los Angeles before the Honorable Judge Dolly M Gee.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Statutory Termination Rights
The ability of creators to terminate a grant of rights in certain circumstances is vested in them as a result of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. Section 203 of USC Title 17 gives authors the inalienable right to reclaim certain rights in their works. Founded on the premise that it is the interests of authors that copyright was originally meant to protect, Congress introduced this right of termination expressly to protect authors from the consequence of unremunerated transfers of rights in their works. The statute is very clear that an author’s right to recapture ownership of works in specific circumstances is both inalienable and “notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.
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 stages personas (in the company of a rotating cast of hard-luck percussionists), has toured the world multiple times since the film’s release, and hundreds of thousands of Spinal Tap sound recordings have been sold over the ensuing decades. Full-length Spinal Tap albums are still available for hard-copy sale, download and streaming today.
“Vivendi’s motion to dismiss is a sadly predictable response. Their motion does not dispute that Vivendi has paid virtually nothing to Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean for This Is Spinal Tap. Yet it asserts these co-creators have no legal right, or standing, to challenge this absurdity. We disagree. Shearer, Reiner, Guest and McKean formed the group Spinal Tap Productions (STP). There's no dispute that STP, also a plaintiff, has standing to proceed. Further the creators' claims to intellectual property rights to the film and its music – both trademark and copyright – cannot be dismissed through this legal standing challenge from Vivendi."
8 February 2017, London: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, co-creators of the cult-classic film This is Spinal Tap, have today formally joined fellow creator, Harry Shearer, as plaintiffs in his lawsuit against French conglomerate Vivendi S.A..
Guest starred as the band Spinal Tap’s lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel; McKean as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist David St Hubbins and Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls. Reiner directed the film and starred as its narrator.
The original complaint, by Shearer’s service company Century of Progress Productions, [Case No. 2:16-cv-07733], was filed on 17 October 2016 in the Central District of California USA. The lawsuit alleges Vivendi S.A. engaged in anti-competitive and unfair business practices, as well as fraudulent accounting, directly related to its management of This Is Spinal Tap.
With Guest, McKean and Reiner’s participation, the revised filed and served complaint now seeks US$400 (four hundred) million in compensatory and punitive damages from Vivendi, up from the US$125 million originally claimed.
Commenting on the lawsuit, Guest said: “The deliberate obfuscation by Vivendi and its subsidiaries is an outrage. It is vital that such behavior is challenged in the strongest way possible.”
Reiner adds: “Fair reward for artistic endeavor has long been raised by those on the wrong end of the equation. What makes this case so egregious is the prolonged and deliberate concealment of profit and the purposeful manipulation of revenue allocation between various Vivendi subsidiaries – to the detriment of the creative talent behind the band and film. Such anti-competitive practices need to be exposed. I am hoping this lawsuit goes to 11.”
“This is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun. The movie’s influence on the last three decades of film comedy is something we are very proud of. But the buck always stopped somewhere short of Rob, Harry, Chris and myself. It’s time for a reckoning. It’s only right.” commented McKean.
Shearer welcomed his co-creators’ decision to join: “Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We’re even louder now.”
The amended complaint, which also incorporates Spinal Tap Productions (owned in equal share by all for co-creators), as a joint plaintiff alongside the co-creators and their service companies, details Vivendi’s alleged manipulation of certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually obligated
accounting and reporting processes, to deny the plaintiffs their rightful stake in the production’s profits.
FOR A COPY OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT CLICK HERE
FOR PHOTOS OF ALL PLAINTIFFS CLICK HERE
NOTES TO EDITORS
In 1982, Reiner, Shearer, Guest, and McKean signed an agreement with Embassy Pictures, Inc. for the production, financing and distribution of This Is Spinal Tap. The agreement ensured profit participation payments, at the rate of 40 percent of net receipts, to the creators based on all sources of revenue, including merchandise and music.
After two years of production, the film was released in 1984. It soon became a cult favourite, and its reputation as one of the 20th Century’s most enduring comedies has increased exponentially in the ensuing years. The film’s accolades include being named in the New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Greatest Movies Ever Made list, Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list, and achieving the coveted Number One spot on Time Out London’s 100 Best Comedy Movies list. In 2002, the film’s lasting appeal led the U.S. Library of Congress to designate it as a culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.
The film’s ongoing critical success was likewise matched by its financial success. It was produced on a shoestring budget of $2.25 million. The complaint alleges that This Is Spinal Tap generated millions of dollars across various revenue streams for Vivendi, its subsidiary companies, and their licensees. The music and merchandise that the film and band have spawned, earned tens of millions of dollars in revenue through re-releases, album and singles sales, merchandise sales, and distribution of the film in various formats across the globe over the course of the last 32 years. However, these profits were not fairly shared with the four co-creators, cast, or crew.
The French conglomerate claims that the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was a mere $81 dollars. Likewise, total income from soundtrack music sales between 1989 and 2006 was reported by Vivendi as only $98 dollars/
Band & Movie Background
Although This Is Spinal Tap was first released in 1984 in US and UK (in 2000 in France) the band “Spinal Tap” was actually created in the late 1970s. The band’s rock musician characters “Nigel Tufnel” and “David St. Hubbins” were created by Christopher Guest and Michael McKean with Harry Shearer creating bassist “Derek Smalls”. Spinal Tap’s comedic sole claim to fame was as “one of England’s loudest bands”.
Phrasing from the film’s script has entered the general lexicon (“it goes to 11”). The film continues to be shown regularly on TV home viewing around the world, is available on multiple video formats and has been supported by several album/singles releases and band tours.
Harry Shearer’s determination to highlight the principle of fair rights to creators led him to launch the original suit. He is unafraid to take on vested interests in the entertainment industry in his pursuit of equitable treatment between the industry and its talent. He is today joined by all of his co-creators of Spinal Tap the band, and the film.
This lawsuit will determine several key matters in respect of the exploitation rights to This Is Spinal Tap, including breach of contract, fraud and fraudulent concealment, breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings and intellectual property rights. The lawsuit raises particular concerns over the anti-competitive effects of non-arms’ length transactions among Vivendi subsidiaries in managing This Is Spinal Tap. These issues are further outlined in the Complaint.
Lead Litigator: Peter Haviland, Ballard Spahr (Los Angeles, CA.)
Lead Counsel: Amanda Harcourt, Intellectual Property Consultant (UK)
"I am surprised to read that Vivendi is unaware of my legal Complaint, filed with the US court on 17 October, and of the global success of the film, This is Spinal Tap, whose rights it owns and whose recoupment it has allegedly been calculating over the past 30 years. Listed conglomerates have a duty to be aware of all litigation in which they are referenced, no matter from where in the world they emanate.Vivendi's reaction demonstrates a worrying myopia from a media giant concerned with IP rights ownership in a global industry. Mr Ron Halpern, Vivendi's executive with responsibility for exploiting the film, his US colleagues as well as Vivendi's own legal department in Paris, will be able to inform Vivendi's board of our myriad of correspondence over the years.
"To help familiarise itself with the issues at stake, perhaps the corporation should also take a look at www.fairnessrocks.com where the filed Legal Complaint is published and downloadable to anyone. A copy of the 18 October media release (in French) can also be downloaded. An internet search will demonstrate to Vivendi shareholders the level of public support as evidenced by the hundreds of media reports from the US West and East Coast through London and Australia since filing. It's puzzling that Vivendi considers this support, for a film whose rights it sometimes asserts as its own, as "disproportionate".
"I think fans will be shocked at the lack of interest shown by Vivendi towards this much-revered film. Perhaps this also explains the corporation's lackadaisical approach to intellectual property rights embodied in the Spinal Tap brand. With US$125m at stake, the US court is unlikely to be so cavalier."
Vivendi may be unaware of TIST's unique and long-term appeal, but its popularity has not been lost on expert critics, given its inclusion 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;
· the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list published by Total Film;
· 2011 Time Out London named the film number one on its list of The 100 Best Comedy Movies.
the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002 designated TIST as a culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.
Unusually, the film has had two releases, several years appart. What's more, TIST still enjoys popularity on television, home video, and other media, including both a 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray DVD release in 2009 and a 30th Anniversary release in November 2014. Yet Vivendi now claims not to recognise the film's significance or popularity whilst booking over US$2.5m in undocumented "marketing and promotion expenses" years after its release. Similarly Vivendi's accounting has produced undocumented charges to "Freight and other Direct Costs" totalling over US $500,000, allegedly incurred almost twenty years after the film's initial release. It is difficult to see on what basis these charges are justified on an unpopular historic film of little import – if that is truly how Vivendi sees TIST.
Harry Shearer, renowned worldwide for his voicing of 23 characters on the long-running animated television series ‘The Simpsons’, has filed a comprehensive legal action in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The lawsuit alleges the French conglomerate, Vivendi S.A., engaged in anti-competitive and unfair business practices, as well as fraudulent accounting, directly related to its management of the cult-classic film, This Is Spinal Tap. Shearer co-created the film, co-wrote the soundtrack and starred as the Spinal Tap band’s bassist, Derek Smalls.
According to the complaint, Vivendi and its agents, including StudioCanal and Universal Music Group, wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes, to deny Shearer and his fellow co-creators their rightful stake in the production’s profits. The action seeks US$125,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
As a StudioCanal executive with personal responsibility for exploitation of the film and band, Ron Halpern is named as a co-defendant in the claim. Halpern is based in Paris.
“Almost 40 years ago, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and I created the somewhat legendary band Spinal Tap,” said Shearer. “We thought there was something real and really funny about the characters, and between that inception and the theatrical release of This Is Spinal Tap in 1984, we poured ourselves into nurturing and perfecting the paean to rock loudness that has entertained so many people, even today. But despite the widespread success of the film and its music, we’ve fallen victim to the same sort of fuzzy and falsified entertainment industry accounting schemes that have bedevilled so many other creators. In this instance, the fraud and negligence were just too egregious to ignore. Also, this time, it was personal.”
In 1982, Reiner, Shearer, Guest, and McKean – signed an agreement with Embassy Pictures, Inc. for the production, financing and distribution of This Is Spinal Tap. The agreement ensured profit participation payments, at the rate of 40 percent of net receipts, to the creators based on all sources of revenue, including merchandise and music.
After two years of production, the film was released in 1984. It soon became a cult favourite and its reputation as one of the 20th Century’s most enduring comedies has increased exponentially in the ensuing years. The film’s accolades include being named in the New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Greatest Movies Ever Made list, Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list, and achieving the coveted Number One spot on Time Out London’s 100 Best Comedy Movies list. In 2002, the film’s lasting appeal led the US Library of Congress (the world’s largest cultural collection), to designate it as a culturally, historically or aesthetically significant film.
The film’s ongoing critical success was likewise matched by its financial success. It was produced on a shoestring budget of US$2.25 million. Yet This Is Spinal Tap and the music and merchandise that it and the band have spawned, earned tens of millions of dollars in revenue, according to the complaint – through re-releases, album and singles sales, merchandise sales, and distribution of the film in various formats, across the globe over the course of the last 32 years. However, these profits were not fairly shared with the four co-creators, cast or crew.
When Vivendi acquired the rights to This Is Spinal Tap in 1989, through its subsidiary Canal, the lawsuit alleges it began a concerted and fraudulent campaign to hide, or grossly underreport, the film’s revenues in order to avoid its profit participation obligations. Vivendi’s financial reporting of income has been woefully inconsistent at best. Performance of its duties to the film’s creators dropped off entirely from 2014, the 30th anniversary of the film’s initial theatrical release. In the past two years, Vivendi has altogether failed to produce an account of any Tap revenue, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that This Is Spinal Tap has generated millions of dollars, across various revenue streams, for Vivendi, its subsidiary companies and their licensees. The French conglomerate asserts that the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was US$81 dollars. Between 1989 and 2006, total income from soundtrack music sales was reported by Vivendi as US$98 dollars, according to the complaint.
“This is a simple issue of artists’ rights,” added Shearer. “It is stunning that after all this time, two cinema releases, all the various home video format releases, all the records and CDs, and all the band-themed merchandise still widely available worldwide, the only people who haven’t shared Spinal Tap’s success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place.”
“Vivendi and its subsidiaries – which own the rights to thousands and thousands of creative works – have, at least in our case, conducted blatantly unfair business practices,” Shearer continued. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if our example were the tip of the iceberg. Though I’ve launched this lawsuit on my own, it is in reality a challenge to the company on behalf of all creators of popular films whose talent has not been fairly remunerated. I am just one person seeking redress for blatant injustice, but I hope this lawsuit will, in its own way, help set a new precedent for faithful and transparent accounting practices, and fair artistic compensation, industry-wide.”
Although This Is Spinal Tap was first released in 1984 in US and UK (in 2000 in France) the band “Spinal Tap” was actually created in the late 1970s. The band’s rock musician characters “Nigel Tufnel” and “David St. Hubbins” were created by Christopher Guest and Michael McKean with Harry Shearer creating bassist “Derek Smalls”. Spinal Tap’s comedic sole claim to fame was as “one of England’s loudest bands”.
Phrasing from the film’s script has entered the general lexicon (“it goes to 11”) as exemplified by the Tesla car, whose audio system’s volume control goes to 11, as does that of the BBC’s iPlayer.
The film continues to be shown regularly on TV home viewing around the world, is available on multiple video formats and has been supported by several album/ singles releases and band tours. Yet, apparently, the film took 27 years to recoup.
Mr Shearer has been frustrated by the difficulty in receiving a clear picture from the Vivendi group as to the revenues due from each of the various income streams – including merchandising and music sales – and by the Group’s accounting methods. He is determined to highlight the principle of fair rights to creators. He is unafraid to take on vested interests in the entertainment industry in his pursuit of equitable treatment between the industry and its talent.
This lawsuit will determine several key matters in respect of the exploitation rights to This Is Spinal Tap, including breach of contract, fraud and fraudulent concealment, breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings and the lawfulness or otherwise of practices indulged in by a media player with market dominance. The lawsuit raises particular concerns over the anti-competitive effects of non-arms’ length transactions among Vivendi subsidiaries in managing This Is Spinal Tap. These issues are further outlined in the Complaint.
Mr Shearer has filed his litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, through his trial counsel, Peter Haviland, Managing Partner of the Los Angeles office of U.S. firm Ballard Spahr.
In 1982 Embassy Pictures (later acquired by Canal/Vivendi) signed an agreement with the Spinal Tap creators to provide regular Participation Statements. These detail the income received from all sources set against the costs of production/administration. This is key to any artist or creator in the entertainment business looking to understand their royalty payments.
Despite repeated requests from Shearer's business management team, he has still not been provided with the complete record of Participation Statements. Over the last two years, Vivendi and Canal have failed to account at all.
In 2013, in anticipation of This Is Spinal Tap (TIST)'s 30th Anniversary, Harry Shearer commissioned a study of the accounting statements and revenue streams associated with TIST. By November it was ready.
It is clear from the study that media giant Vivendi has an interest in many of the companies exploiting TIST right along the value chain. This has enabled a blurring of revenue and cost allocation between different film (StudioCanal) and music (Universal Music Group) subsidiaries.
It appeared Vivendi had wilfully concealed and manipulated years of accountings to retain monies due to the film’s creators. The failure to provide accounting and the gaps in statements coincided with the years where activity would have enhanced revenue.
Millions of dollars in undocumented marketing and promotional expenses were allegedly incurred years after release, as were undocumented charges for "freight and other direct costs". All this, almost 20 years after the film's initial launch.
According to Vivendi, TIST took 27 years to recoup.
The creators have always been entitled to revenues from sale of TIST merchandise. But according to Vivendi accounting, no merchandise revenue has been generated worldwide in over 20 years.
Shearer's representatives have informed Canal on numerous occasions of the existence of unlicensed items using the trademark or third party products branded in association with the film/band. Thousands of TIST-branded items are offered for sale online.
Harry discovered that not only has Canal failed to enforce the trademarks, it had actually abandoned its registrations in 2011. Yet Canal still claims rights against the creators if they want to use the Spinal Tap name. Harry has now filed trademark applications to reclaim creative rights to use the names "Spinal Tap" and "Derek Smalls" without interference from Vivendi.
Harry Shearer's representatives alert Canal to numerous trademark infringements and unlicensed merchandise products, varying from 'This is Spinal Tape' to "Dobly Sound" and McDonalds' "Our taste goes to 11" by way of examples. No meaningful action is taken by Canal to uphold the IP rights.
Rialto appointed to manage US theatrical (cinema) and non-theatrical distribution. Rialto is a distribution company co-founded by Adrienne Halpern, the sister of Vivendi/StudioCanal’s Ron Halpern.
Audio visual use licenses are granted for the songs Big Bottom, Gimme Some Money and Cups and Cakes, Heavy Duty, Hellhole, Sex Farm, Stonehenge and Tonight I am Gonna Rock You, Tonight.
The band plays Glastonbury Festival in the UK. Back from the Dead CD & DVD re-released by Essential. The band also appeared and performed on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'.
Release of the so-called Marshall Amp edition on BluRay from Optimum.
Up to 11 25th Anniversary Editon from Optiumum DVD & BluRay
Release of BluRay disc from ArtHaus.
Numerous film, video and music releases in USA and Europe. The band invited to appear in advertising around the 1996 Olympics and in TV commercials.
In 2007, the band plays UK’s Wembley Stadium for the Live Earth global warming charity event.
June: The first single, The Majesty of Rock, is released by MCA from the follow up album Break Like the Wind. The single, Bitch School, follows then the album. Release of Home Video – Return of Spinal Tap.
New Line Home Video buys Nelson Entertainment catalogue for US$15 million. These video rights subsequently passed to MGM, now part of Sony Music Entertainment.
Re-make rights are sold during the De Laurentis Entertainment Group bankruptcy to Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions LLC and continue to be managed on behalf of LIMP by Carolco Pictures in LA. Yet Canal has purported to license re-make rights when ownership is vested elsewhere.
De Laurentis Entertainment Group files for bankruptcy and certain of its rights in This Is Spinal Tap are sold to Parafrance. Parafrance is a subsidiary of L’Oreal which later transfers certain rights to StudioCanal - a subsidiary of French media conglomerate Vivendi.
Coca Cola divides Embassy Pictures' assets and sells the theatrical division to De Laurentis Entertainment Group. Home video is sold to Nelson Entertainment.
Embassy Pictures sold to Coca Cola for US$485 million.
Theatrical (cinema) releases by now in Brasil, Germany, Norway, Finland, Australia, Norway, Hong Kong, Italy. The title and the film itself has by now been translated into at least 19 languages.
Spinal Tap: The Original Soundtrack Recording from the Motion Picture This Is Spinal Tap is released by Polydor.
The film, "This Is Spinal Tap", is released on 3 screens in US cinemas.
Spinal Tap Productions signs a production and distribution agreement with Embassy Pictures to produce the motion picture “This Is Spinal Tap” incorporating the pre-existing characters, situations and the songs. Under the terms of the Agreement, STP and its Principals were to receive both fixed, deferred and contingent compensation for their services in the form of profit participation payments based on all sources of revenue, including merchandise and music.
This Is Spinal Tap is released in a London cinema, opening in other UK cinemas the following day.
Spinal Tap and Rob Reiner produce a 20 minute 'proof of concept' film they called “The Last Tour” which was eventually picked up by independent film studio Embassy Pictures who offered the creators a deal.
The production company, Spinal Tap Productions, is formed with all four creators (Guest, McKean, Shearer and Reiner) as Principals having equal shares in the company and all revenues arising from the company’s creations.
Spinal Tap writes 7 songs and records them in an LA studio. The band performs these songs at gigs at LA’s Whiskey & The Central (both on Sunset Strip) and at a club in Orange County.
Spinal Tap appears in a pilot called “The TV Show” which lampooned many television formats. It is broadcast on ABC. Rob Reiner was executive producer and Harry Shearer produced the show.
Christopher Guest & Michael McKean create Nigel Tufnel and David St Hubbins, English musicians. Harry Shearer joins them as Derek Smalls. The band is named "Spinal Tap".
Originally posted by: Variety (OCTOBER 5, 2017)
Vivendi’s Paris headquarters were raided by police Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged market manipulation involving its acquisition of a stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset. The probe was launched by Milan prosecutors following a criminal complaint filed by Mediaset and its majority shareholder Fininvest, a holding owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio … Continue reading "Vivendi Headquarters Raided by Police Amid Spat With Mediaset"
Originally posted by: Le Figaro (July 11 2017)
Maxime Saada, DG du groupe, répond à la polémique sur le non-versement de 50 millions d’euros. Canal + repart à l’offensive. Vivement critiqué pour ne plus verser aucun droit d’auteur depuis fin 2016, le groupe de Vincent Bolloré a décidé de sortir de sa réserve. «Nous avons le sentiment d’une profonde iniquité», confie son directeur … Continue reading "Canal+ contre-attaque sur le dossier des droits d’auteur"
Originally posted by: Writers & Directors Worldwide (July 11 2017)
On the 23 June, Writers & Directors Worldwide president, Yves Nilly, met with acclaimed author, director and actor, Harry Shearer to discuss their shared experiences of audiovisual rights campaigning. While Writers & Directors Worldwide has been successfully pursuing legislative changes via The Audiovisual Campaign, Mr. Shearer has been fighting his own battle for equitable remuneration … Continue reading "Writers & Directors Worldwide Meets with Harry Shearer of the “Fairness Rocks” campaign to Share Best Practice in Fight for Authors’ Rights"
Originally posted by: GQ (May 31 2017)
For years, Harry Shearer, one of the creators of the comedy classic This Is Spinal Tap, received royalty checks for the movie that could barely cover a day’s supply of foil-wrapped zucchini. Now he’s got the band back together (in court) to find out what happened to the rest of the money and, they hope, … Continue reading "Spinal Tap vs. Hollywood"
Originally posted by: Bloomberg Business Week (April 20 2017)
The creators of This is Spinal Tap, the most influential mockumentary ever made, have been paid almost nothing. The rock gods are angry. In comedy, as in rock ’n’ roll, nothing is quite as easy as it looks. And so it makes sense that several years before the 1984 release of the legendary rock ’n’ … Continue reading "This Lawsuit Goes to 11"
Originally posted by: Rolling Stone (April 4 2017)
“We are motivated by a desire to highlight the longstanding and improper accounting practices in the music and film industries,” actor writes A little over three decades ago, This Is Spinal Tap perfectly parodied hard-rock excess with a pint-sized Stonehenge, amps that go “one louder” and the unforgettable phrase “Hello Cleveland.” Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/harry-shearer-why-my-spinal-tap-lawsuit-affects-all-creators-w474441
Originally posted by: Hollywood Reporter (March 30 2017)
From a mockumentary classic to an Oscar-winning best picture, studios are fighting to hold onto properties from hungry authors. In James Cameron’s sci-fi classic, The Terminator, a cyborg is sent back in time to assassinate. Something similar is playing out in Hollywood at the moment thanks to a mid-1970s change to copyright law that allows … Continue reading "The Terminator Comes to Hollywood to Destroy Old Copyright Grants"
Originally posted by: Law 360 (March 30 2017)
By Melissa Daniels Law360, Los Angeles (March 30, 2017, 6:48 PM EDT) — The co-creators of “This Is Spinal Tap” on Wednesday defended their right to bring a $400 million royalty suit against Vivendi SA, in the process calling out the French media giant for a “grossly inappropriate litigation threat” against actor Harry Shearer. Shearer … Continue reading "‘Spinal Tap’ Actors Blast Studio’s ‘Threat’ In Royalty Row"
Originally posted by: The New Post (March 30 2017)
The creators of “Spinal Tap” have turned the legal volume up to 11 in an effort to advance their $400 million suit against the movie’s current owner. In pleadings filed on Wednesday, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner derided a legal threat in Los Angeles federal court by Vivendi, which came to … Continue reading "‘Spinal Tap’ creators fire back at current owners in court"
Originally posted by: Complete Music Update (March 30 2017)
The creators of ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ have responded to Vivendi’s response to their $400 million lawsuit, mainly focusing on the termination right element of the case. Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner all accuse Vivendi – which controls the ‘Spinal Tap’ movie via its StudioCanal business and the soundtrack via Universal … Continue reading "Spinal Tap creators hit out at Vivendi’s “distracting and obfuscatory conduct”"
Originally posted by: Music Week (March 30 2017)
This Is Spinal Tap co-creators Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner have responded to Vivendi’s claim that their lawsuit should be thrown out, describing the French company’s behaviour as “grossly inappropriate”. The original complaint, made by Shearer’s service company Century of Progress Productions [Case No. 2:16-cv-07733] was filed on October 17 2016. … Continue reading "Spinal Tap creators respond to ‘grossly inappropriate” claim their lawsuit should be thrown out"
Originally posted by: The Wrap (3 March 2017)
The 1984 film “This Is Spinal Tap” might be a beloved cult classic, but it was far from a blockbuster. At least that’s the assertion in a new filing relating to the $400 million lawsuit revolving around the movie. In papers filed Tuesday, Vivendi and Studiocanal say that “Spinal Tap” stars Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, … Continue reading "‘Spinal Tap’ Stars Blasted for ‘Absurdly’ Filed $400 Million Lawsuit"
Originally posted by: WROR (3 March 2017)
French media giant Vivendi SA blasted back Tuesday at a lawsuit claiming it underpaid royalties for the cult classic “This Is Spinal Tap,” calling the suit’s demand of $400 million in damages “absurd.” The studio’s filing in California federal court came in the form of a limited motion seeking to dismiss the movie’s actors — … Continue reading "‘Spinal Tap’ Defendants File Motion To Dismiss Lawsuit"
Originally posted by: LAW 360 (3 March 2017)
French media giant Vivendi SA blasted back Tuesday at a lawsuit claiming it underpaid royalties for the cult classic “This Is Spinal Tap,” calling the suit’s demand of $400 million in damages “absurd.” The studio’s filing in California federal court came in the form of a limited motion seeking to dismiss the movie’s actors — … Continue reading "Vivendi Calls $400M ‘Spinal Tap’ Royalties Claim ‘Absurd’"
Originally posted by: THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (3 March 2017)
Forget an 11. This one is now up to at least 18. Earlier this month, This Is Spinal Tap co-creators Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, along with the 1984 film’s director Rob Reiner, joined Harry Shearer in a lawsuit that alleges they’ve been denied as much as $400 million in contingent compensation from Vivendi and … Continue reading "Media company bosses seek dismissal of £320 million Spinal Tap lawsuit"
Originally posted by: XPOSE (3 March 2017)
In October (16) Harry Shearer, who played bassist Derek Smalls in the beloved 1984 spoof rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap filed a lawsuit alleging Vivendi bosses had cheated him and the film’s co-creators out of its profits, seeking $125 million (£100 million). Last month (Feb17) the film’s director Rob Reiner and Harry’s co-stars Christopher … Continue reading "Media company bosses seek dismissal of $400 million Spinal Tap lawsuit"
Originally posted by: METAL INDSIDER (3 March 2017)
Last year, Harry Shearer filed a lawsuit against Vivendi Universal about This is Spinal Tap, a classic 1984 film that started the mockumentary genre that’s continued on to this day. And while there have been plenty of lawsuits against movie studios or record labels, the lawsuit alleged that Shearer and co-creators Christopher Guest and Michael … Continue reading "Vivendi seeks dismissal of Spinal Tap’s $400 million lawsuit"
Originally posted by: Complete Music Update (3 March 2017)
Universal Music owner Vivendi would like everyone to know that it has “genuine admiration for the talents of Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner”. But all things considered, the company would prefer it if all four creators of ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ would just fuck off and die. Well, I’m paraphrasing slightly. … Continue reading "Vivendi says $400 million Spinal Tap legal claim “absurd”"
Originally posted by: JD JOURNAL (3 March 2017)
Vivendi is cranking their lawsuit up to an 11. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the owner of “This Is Spinal Tap” has fought back against the $400 lawsuit filed by the cult movie’s creators and stars. The media conglomerate asked for the lawsuit to be thrown out, stating that the plaintiffs have no rights to their work-for-hire … Continue reading "“Spinal Tap” Owners Demand Dismissal of $400 Million Lawsuit"
Originally posted by: NEW YORK POST (3 March 2017)
The foursome behind the “Spinal Tap” mockumentary — Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner — should have the volume of their $400 million suit against Vivendi turned down to zero, the company said on Wednesday. Vivendi’s StudioCanal unit, which owns the movie, asked a judge to toss the suit. The four filed suit … Continue reading "‘Spinal Tap’ owners attempt to get creators’ $400M suit tossed"
Originally posted by: Pollstar (3 March 2017)
Vivendi S.A. and Studiocanal say they have “genuine admiration” for “This Is Spinal Tap” stars Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, but their $400 million claim for damages is “absurd” and they should be dismissed from their own suit. The companies moved to dismiss the comedians in a Feb. 28 U.S. District … Continue reading "VIVENDI MOVES TO DISMISS ‘TAP’ SUIT"
Originally posted by: Le Figaro (10 Feb 2017)
Le réalisateur Rob Reiner ainsi que les acteurs Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer et Michael McKean se réunissent pour réclamer 400 millions de dollars à la compagnie de Vincent Bolloré, qu’ils accusent d’escroquerie. Le faux groupe de hard rock le plus célèbre du cinéma est de retour, mais pas là où on l’attendait. En effet, la … Continue reading "Le faux groupe de rock Spinal Tap porte plainte contre Vivendi"
Originally posted by: Spin (8 Feb 2017)
Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner, and Michael McKean have joined their This Is Spinal Tap co-star Harry Shearer’s lawsuit against against Vivendi SA over alleged fraudulent accounting related to the 1984 cult classic. Shearer first filed the lawsuit last October, claiming that Vivendi only reported $98 in total income from soundtrack music sales and $81 in … Continue reading "Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean Join Harry Shearer’s $400 Million This Is Spinal Tap Lawsuit"
Originally posted by: Rolling Stone (8 Feb 2017)
This Is Spinal Tap actors Christopher Guest and Michael McKean and the mockumentary’s director Rob Reiner have joined co-star Harry Shearer’s lawsuit against the film’s rights holder Vivendi. In October, Shearer filed a $125 million lawsuit against Vivendi, alleging accounting misappropriation, fraud and breach of contract in regards to the 1984 cult classic and its … Continue reading "Spinal Tap Crew Joins Harry Shearer’s $400 Million Lawsuit Against Vivendi"
Originally posted by: The Washington Post (8 Feb 2017)
Spinal Tap has reunited — this time in a Los Angeles court to challenge the French studio Vivendi S.A. for millions in profits from the classic mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap.” Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner on Tuesday joined a federal lawsuit filed by bandmate and Spinal Tap co-creator Harry Shearer. Shearer, who … Continue reading "Spinal Tap bandmates join lawsuit over film’s profits"
Originally posted by: The Guardian (8 Feb 2017)
The band members from cult rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap have agreed to reunite in a bid they claim will ensure a $400m (£321m) lawsuit against media firm Vivendi “goes to 11”. Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/08/spinal-tap-lawsuit-harry-shearer-rob-reiner-vivendi
Originally posted by: FINANCIAL TIMES (8 Feb 2017)
A lawsuit alleging that Vivendi, the French media conglomerate, engaged in “anti-competitive behaviour” and “fraudulent accounting” in its management of the royalties generated by the movie This Is Spinal Tap has been turned up to 11. Read more: https://www.ft.com/content/41a47b96-8ba6-37a4-b0ec-53e62f5fabc7
Originally posted by: AFP (8 Feb 2017)
Les co-créateurs du film “This is Spinal tap” rejoignent une plainte contre Vivendi 8 February 2017 Trois co-créateurs du film culte “This is Spinal tap” se sont joints à une plainte contre Vivendi, l’accusant de “fraude” dans la gestion des droits de la comédie sortie en 1984 et réclamant 400 millions de dollars, selon un … Continue reading "Les co-créateurs du film “This is Spinal tap” rejoignent une plainte contre Vivendi"
Originally posted by:
LES ECHOS: LE CERCLE/POINT DE VUE 16 December 16 Il faut rétablir le droit pour les auteurs à une rémunération proportionnelle à l’utilisation de leurs oeuvres. On nous chante aujourd’hui à longueur de temps les valeurs de l’économie de partage et de l’économie collaborative ; les réseaux sont sociaux et ouverts, et on … Continue reading "LES ECHOS (16 Dec 2016)"
Originally posted by: LE MONDE ECONOMIE (1 Dec 2016)
1st December 2016 Full article available here: http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2016/12/01/droits-d-auteur-harry-shearer-connu-pour-etre-la-voix-des-simpsons-attaque-vivendi-aux-etats-unis_5041434_3234.html#lVKyK9T8oc0bKhx4.99 Translation: Creators Rights: Harry Shearer, known as the voice of The Simpsons, Fights Vivendi in the US By filing a complaint against the producer, the American denounces the fraudulent practices of Hollywood studios over remuneration for artists. For fear of being placed on a blacklist, artists rarely … Continue reading "Creators Rights: Harry Shearer, known as the voice of The Simpsons, Fights Vivendi in the US"
Originally posted by: FT (22 Oct 2016)
(22 October 2016) The artist’s law suit comes at a time of deepening suspicion of platform owners Philip Delves Broughton There can only be one winner in the case of the actor Harry Shearer v Vivendi, the French media group, over royalties from the 1984 film, This is Spinal Tap. And it’s bad news, … Continue reading "Spinal Tap star turns it up to 11 in fight for royalties"
Originally posted by: The Register (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) Actor, writer and director Harry Shearer, who played Derek Smalls in the band Spinal Tap, is suing the owners of the movie This Is Spinal Tap over royalties. Read the full article on The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/18/harry_shearer_spinal_tap_lawsuit/
Originally posted by: BBC (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) Harry Shearer is taking legal action against entertainment group Vivendi, claiming it has denied him and others profits from 1984’s This is Spinal Tap. Read the full article on The BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37688670
Originally posted by: Hollywood Reporter (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) Harry Shearer has launched a $125 million fraud and contract-breach lawsuit against Vivendi and StudioCanal over the 1984 rockumentary classic This Is Spinal Tap. Read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/harry-shearer-files-125-million-939205
Originally posted by: Music Business Worldwide (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) This Is Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer is suing Universal parent Vivendi for what he alleges is dramatic and deliberate under-payment of music royalties. Read the full article on Music Business Worldwide: http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/universal-caught-lawsuit-spinal-tap-star-sues-vivendi-125m/
Originally posted by: Le figaro (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) L’acteur américain Harry Shearer, voix de nombreux personnages de la série animée “Les Simpsons”, a annoncé mardi attaquer en justice Vivendi. Read the full article on Le Fiagro: http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-eco/2016/10/18/97002-20161018FILWWW00144-la-voix-des-simpsons-porte-plainte-contre-vivendi.php
Originally posted by: Wall Street Journal (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) Comedian and actor Harry Shearer said in a lawsuit filed Monday that he’s been bilked for years out of profits generated by “This Is Spinal Tap,” Read the full article on The Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/actor-harry-shearer-sues-over-spinal-tap-royalties-1476826458
Originally posted by: The Times (19 Oct 2016)
(19 Oct 2016) In the celebrated 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, members of a fictional rock band toured the world under the tutelage of a hapless manager. Read the full article on The Times: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/this-is-the-100m-spinal-tap-lawsuit-8vc5tx98g
Originally posted by: FT (18 Oct 2016)
(18 Oct 2016) Harry Shearer, who played bass guitarist Derek Smalls in the 1984 “rockumentary”This is Spinal Tap, has gone “to 11” with a $125m lawsuit against Vivendi. Read the full article on FT.com: https://www.ft.com/content/6ff840a0-9516-11e6-a80e-bcd69f323a8b
Originally posted by: The Guardian (14 Sept 2016)
(14 Sept 2016) Publishers, musicians and TV makers could find it easier to make money from use of their work on YouTube, Google News and Facebook The EU is proposing strict new copyright rules aimed at making it easier for musicians, TV makers and publishers to make money out of their work online. Google could … Continue reading "Guardian: New EU copyright rules could boost media groups"
Originally posted by: FT (12 Oct 2016)
(12 Oct 2016) Vincent Bolloré has tightened his grip on Vivendi, pushing his stake in the Paris-based media and content group above the 20 per cent threshold for the first time. Read the full article on FT.com: https://www.ft.com/content/4f5b73e0-8eee-11e6-a72e-b428cb934b78
Originally posted by: Les Jours (April 2016)
(April 2016) Article originally posted here: http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2016/04/28/losses-continue-at-canal-france/ According to French news website LesJours.fr, which has obtained a confidential document, the Canal+ group recorded a net loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2016.
Originally posted by: Music Business Worldwide (April 2016)
(April 2016) Article originally posted here: http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/artist-backlash-over-youtubes-royalty-payments-grows-noisier/ While YouTube swats away major label criticism, anger amongst the artist community over royalties paid out by the video giant is steadily getting louder.
Originally posted by: Billboard (13 Apr 2015)
(13 April 2015) Article originally posted here: http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6531693/fair-play-fair-pay-act-performance-royalty-radio The U.S. music industry is attempting yet again to get artists paid for master recordings and performance rights when their songs are broadcast. Will terrestrial radio cave?
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