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Biafra Loses Bid To Deny Royalties

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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


05/22/00 - CDNOW - Allstar News

Jury Sides With Dead Kennedys, Finds Jello Biafra Liable

A San Francisco Superior Court jury ruled in favor of three ex-Dead Kennedys on Friday (May 19), finding ex-frontman and label boss Jello Biafra liable for engaging in fraudulent conduct with malice in his dealings with his former bandmates.

Guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Fluoride, and drummer D.H. Peligro were awarded $200,000 in damages stemming from a failure on Biafra's part to promote the band's Alternative Tentacles back catalog, failure to compensate his former bandmates properly through royalties, and a slew of other complaints. The jury also found the band collectively owned the band's back catalog rather than Biafra's claim that the songwriter in each case owned the track. The jury also awarded punitive damages in the case.

The jury defined malice in reference to the case as "conduct which is intended to cause injury or despicable conduct which is carried with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights of others. Despicable conduct is conduct which is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched, or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people."

The band formed the artist-friendly Alternative Tentacles in 1979 as a joint partnership between all four members. Biafra acquired the label solely in 1986 and was accused of gypping his former bandmates on royalty rates ever since.

The Dead Kennedys originally sued Biafra in 1998 after they split from Alternative Tentacles a few weeks earlier over a royalty dispute. The seven-count suit claimed the Dead Kennedys were being paid a lower royalty rates than other bands on the label. Ray was quoted at the time of the lawsuit as saying, "We ain't gonna work on Biafra's farm no more."

--Kevin Raub


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last updated 08/05/03