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Biafra Loses Bid To Deny Royalties

URGH, A Music War

Examiner Rectifies Error

DKs Win Back Rights

DKs Plan New Releases Following Judgment

Jury Sides With DKs

Punk Rock On Trial

Greg Werckman quote

DKs Claim Suit Unavoidable

01/17/01 -

Dead Kennedys Win Back Rights,
Band Defrauded By Biafra

A two-year legal battle between former members of the Dead Kennedys has ended with the band regaining control of their back catalogue, after it emerged Jello Biafra had been "engaging in fraudulent conduct" against his former colleagues. The case started in 1997, when an employee of Biafra?s Alternative Tentacles label (which holds the Kennedys back catalogue) found that the band had been underpaid $76,000 in royalties which had accrued over a ten-year period. Biafra didn?t let his former bandmates know about the hoard, instead using the band?s own royalties as a bargaining ploy to get the others to sign over their rights to Alternative Tentacles in perpetuity. When it was revealed that the band were actually legally entitled to these royalties, Biafra told his former bandmates that they would need a court order to get compensation. The band duly filed suit against Biafra in October 1998.

In May last year, a jury found Alternative Tentacles guilty of engaging in "fraudulent conduct" and that "Biafra had breached his contractual and fiduciary obligations". The court also found Biafra and his company "guilty of malice, oppression and fraud", claiming that the term malice meant "conduct which is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary, decent people." Which is kind of fitting for the authors of Too Drunk To Fuck?

Biafra was also found guilty of using profits from sales of the band?s back catalogue to promote his solo career. "The jury found that Biafra purposefully defrauded us, his band mates and partners," said bassist Klaus Flouride. "This was about equality, fairness and the democracy of the band. We did the Dead Kennedys together, it was a collaboration and each of us has a voice in our future. Now the money he was taking as the label will be shared with all the band members."

With the Kennedys continuing as a partnership, guitarist East Bay Ray says that Biafra will be invited to vote on all issues regarding the band. Now that the other members are in control of the catalogue, it?s likely that there will be reissues and new archive releases. "There?s a whole generation of kids who are into the band, but never saw us live," said drummer D. H. Peligro. "It?s about laying it down for the people."


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last updated 08/05/03