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All Legal Action is Over!

It's Getting Crazier
and Crazier Folks!

Update on the Lawsuits Against Dead Kennedys

Excerpts From The Appellate Decision

DKs Completely Vindicated In Appeal

Statement of Facts

DKs Respond to Lawsuit

DKs v ATR Appeal

DKs Puzzled By Biafra's Latest Legal Maneuver

DKs Plan New Releases

DKs Sue Jello Biafra

DKs Sever Ties with ATR


Update on the Lawsuits Against Dead Kennedys

Following a California Appellate Court’s verdict last June, two of the three active lawsuits filed against the Dead Kennedys by their former record company, Alternative Tentacles Records (A.T.R.), have been dropped. A Federal Court action and an Alameda County Superior Court action filed against the band by former lead singer Jello Biafra were officially withdrawn in October of last year. These lawsuits were in addition to the label’s California Appellate Court case against the band.

Unfortunately, A.T.R. is continuing its legal action against Dead Kennedys with papers filed in San Francisco Superior Court in November 2003. Each lawsuit by the record company has been an attempt to destroy the band's equal partnership of more than twenty years, Decay Music. Decay is a joint partnership between Jello Biafra, East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and D.H. Peligro.

Both Decay Music and Dead Kennedys have been tied down in court by the record company for more than five years now. In September 1998, the band decided to leave the label after it was discovered that A.T.R. was deliberately being dishonest with the band about royalties owed and wrongly profiting for over 10 years on the band’s share of the income.

Dead Kennedys won a jury trial in San Francisco Superior Court in May 2000 as well as the appeal filed against them by A.T.R. in the California State Appellate Court in June 2003. In that case, the three Appellate Court Justices unanimously upheld the earlier Superior Court’s decision that Alternative Tentacles Records was guilty of knowingly and deliberately defrauding Dead Kennedys members, East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and D. H. Peligro, out of royalties owed them as members of Dead Kennedys and that the record company had issued the DK’s catalog without their permission. The Appellate Court also found that, despite wild accusations by the company, the band members had done absolutely nothing wrong and were entitled to their equal voice. In the court of public relations, however, the company has persisted in a cynical “blame-the-victim” campaign against the band. The company’s false attacks against the band have fallen on deaf ears. The band did not and has not signed to a major label, nor have they ever allowed their music to be used in any TV commercial.

As A.T.R.’s actions were being brought to light, other bands have left the record company and have not been taken to court for doing so. D.O.A., Neurosis, No Means No, Zen Guerilla and others have all left the label without being sued nor were subjected to a media name-calling campaign such as the one directed at Dead Kennedys.

Said the L.A. Weekly in August 2003, "…[though] a legal victory held Jello Biafra responsible for withholding tens of thousand of DK dollars due his cohorts, the band couldn't even get booked in Frisco until recently—the work of a weird moral majority, made stranger by the fact that all the band members sought was to be recognized as equal partners."

A lot of negativity and name calling has been heaped upon Dead Kennedys but one has to wonder why the finger has not been pointed in such other directions as A.T.R.’s lawyers and their failed strategy? Instead of simply acknowledging the label’s wrongful actions and correcting them, the lawyers have cost ATR several $100,000’s of dollars in legal fees.


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last updated 07/14/04