Curb sues Tim McGraw for the zillionth time. Here’s an attorney’s take on things

Tim
Wow. I have to say that I'm kind of in awe of how relentless Curb Records has been in pursuing Tim McGraw and getting just one last album from him.

It almost makes you wonder if Tim would have been better off just recording a last album with Curb and being done with it all. 

Anyway, after years of legal wrangling, Curb's back at it again, this time suing in federal court stating that Tim's recently released "Two Lanes of Freedom" actually belongs to them. They've now sued for copyright infringement. 

You can read the actual lawsuit here.

I'm horrid at explaining legal mumbo jumbo so I asked my friend Lorendasue, a licensed Tennessee attorney, to give her take on the latest developments. Here's what she had to say:

You've probably read by now that Curb Records sued Tim McGraw and Big Machine
Records in the federal U.S. District Court in Nashville on Monday. What you may
not have read is that the lawsuit which Curb has had against McGraw since 2011
in state court in Nashville was discontinued by Curb on Monday, also. You should
recall that Curb and McGraw were battling in state court over whether McGraw had
breached his recording contract with Curb (which stretches back to 1997, but
most of the current disagreement is under a 2001 change in the contract) by not
delivering the music for the masters for his "Emotional Traffic" album within
the time frame Curb claimed was called for under the contract.



McGraw's
arguments in the state case were, at their basic level, that Curb had altered
the contract by previously dealing with McGraw in a manner which did not conform
to the strict language of the contract. McGraw apparently didn't have to get
approval for songs for other albums and he had recorded and delivered somewhat
on his own timeframe. McGraw also claimed that Curb had extended the contract
beyond the intended time by releasing more and more greatest hits compilations.
McGraw also specifically claimed involuntary servitude regarding the actions of
Curb.

All the action in the state court centered around whether McGraw
could be prohibited from recording for anyone else -specifically Big Machine
Records. That one issue went to the Tennessee Supreme Court and resulted in
McGraw being given the green light to record for Big Machine. There was still an
issue of whether there was a breach of contract, and by whom, and who might own
whom money. But, Curb essentially lost on what it apparently wanted most – more
songs from Tim McGraw.

Now, Curb is moving from state court to federal
court to get more songs from McGraw. And it's drawing on federal copyright law
for it's stand. Curb, once again claims breach of contract by McGraw and makes
related claims against Big Machine. But, the crux of the case is that Curb
claims that because McGraw (in its eyes) breached the contract to deliver a
fifth album, that the contract reverts to its original terms and McGraw owes the
label a sixth album. Curb claims that because McGraw was in an exclusive
recording contract with Curb (standard for recording contracts), Curb owns the
copyright to everything that McGraw has recorded – including the recently
released "Two Lanes of Freedom" album. There are allegations that McGraw has
destroyed some masters of recordings he's done during the time that Curb and
McGraw have been battling which are not included on any album. Curb wants it
all.

A story in "The Tennessean" today (May 1) indicates that McGraw and
his attorney had not officially received the complaint, yet. McGraw's claims in
state court are still filed, so now there's a state court/federal court issue as
to the underlying contract issues. It is interesting to note that Curb's initial
filings in state court referenced the contract without actually quoting from it.
The federal complaint does include quotes.

Tim McGraw will never record
another note for Curb. For any court to rule otherwise would be to institute
involuntary servitude and that's not going to happen. It's all a matter of who
is going to owe whom money. A finding of breach of contract cannot be made
without the entire contract being revealed to a court at some time. Curb
certainly doesn't want the contract to be public, and it can be revealed to a
court without it become public knowledge.

It will be interesting to see
what is first fought over in federal court: Whether the federal court can decide
on anything in this case while McGraw's state court claims are still pending?
Whether a copyright claim can be recognized under these facts? Whether there is
a breach of contract? One can only hope that McGraw won't be old enough to draw
Social Security benefits before this is all concluded and that McGraw continues
to record music for the fans. All this wrangling makes one believe that someone
forget about the fans.

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