The Cranberries may not be “analysing,” but their accountants certainly are. Recent audits of the band’s finances, managed by their self-owned company Curtain Call Ltd., seemed to show that The Cranberries were shorted royalties of over $2.6 million by former record company Universal Music. Curtain Call responded by quietly filing suit against UMG Recordings in the New York Southern District Federal Court on March 27th, 2003. On July 30th, 2003, the case was withdrawn by the plaintiff as quietly as it was initiated.
Curtain Call Limited was founded by Dolores O’Riordan, Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, and Fergal Lawler in the mid-90’s to manage the band’s day-to-day business, touring, and merchandising affairs. The company is located in the city of Shannon, County Clare, Ireland and enjoys exemption from a large number of taxes due to its affiliation with the music industry.
The Cranberries abruptly terminated their contract with Universal Music in January of this year, citing poor promotion and support for the band’s last two releases, “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” and “Stars: The Best of…” Despite the fact that the band still owed Universal one album from their 1991 contract with Island Records, the so-called “monolith” has remained mysteriously quiet. We’d bet the farm that the two actions are related.
Zombieguide first heard whispers about a court case in June of this year, when the paid online service Entertainment Law Digest posted the following one-sentence summary:
“Curtain Call Limited v. UMG, Inc.; Island Def Jam Music Group; and Island Def Jam Records, Inc. The recording company for the musical group The Cranberries claims subsidiaries of UMG Recordings, Inc. breached agreements by failing to pay over $2.6 million in royalties. New Filing SD New York.”
Intrigued by this statement, Zombieguide contacted a representative for the band’s management who told us that this was “a reference to an older issue.” This diffused our interest (temporarily), and we moved on. A month passes.
You see, this isn’t the first time that The Cranberries have filed a lawsuit against Universal for royalties. In 2000, Norwegian newspaper VG reported that the band was suing Universal for about £2 million (approx. $3.1 million) for royalties outside the UK for the period of 1992-1997. We assumed by the statement above that this was the “older issue” in question. The ruling from the 2000 case is still unknown to The Cranberries’ fanbase. But judging soley from the current ongoing case, it might suggest that the band was previously successful, and is attempting to do so again.
Now we go to August 2003. Our curiosity coming back around, we decided to check around further — only to find yet more listings of the case “03CV- 2158 Curtain Call Limited v. UMG Recordings, Inc.; Island Def Jam Music Group; and Island Def Jam Records, Inc.” In fact, one legal database even showed that on July 30, 2003, the appointed judge in the case, the Honorable Judge George B. Daniels signed a document describing certain stipulations of the case.
We knew that something was going on in New York. Once again, Zombieguide contacted the band’s management. This time, we got a response.
Lewis Kovac, The Cranberries’ London-based manager told Zombieguide, “The Cranberries back catalogue is controlled by Universal Music Group through its affiliates, Island Def Jam and MCA Records. At this time, there is a claim for the years 1997-2000 which has been presented to the record company and the court of jurisdiction, the Southern District of New York.”
In his statement, Kovac told us that the civil case was more routine than extraordinary. “Audits of royalties are routine and thus claims are filed with the appropriate court once a determination is made. All labels have many claims ongoing with the major royalty earners on their books.” Another employee of Timless Music, Ltd., the band’s self-owned promotional company, said that the ongoing procedure was “no biggie.”
Zombieguide also contacted the Universal Music Group (because we’re fair guys like that), but UMG declined comment.
Under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, any U.S. citizen is entitled to any non-classified governmental information, including that of lawsuits, arrests, etc. As an American citizen, I excersized that right and obtained a sole court document, dated July 30th, 2003, from the United States NY Southern District Federal Court.
With said document in hand, we found that the July 30th stipulation was more exactly a “Stipulation of Discontinuance Without Prejudice.” The case had been closed by Curtain Call “without costs to any party against the other.”
Exactly why The Cranberries’ lawyers decided to withdraw the lawsuit is still uncertain, and is likely to remain uncertain. The last clause of the short statment, stating that the suit was discontinuned “without costs to any party” may suggest that there was no out-of-court settlement, though even that is unknown at this time.
If we get further details, you can be sure to find them right here. In the meantime, check out our exclusively obtained court document regarding the lawsuit’s discontinuance, below. Stick here with Zombieguide for more upcoming won’t-find-it-anywhere-else Cranberries news.
Partial Sources: Entertainment Law Digest, Clare Champion