Dead Kennedys Earn Total Vindication a Second Time In California Court of Appeals
Court Upholds Earlier Decisions in Dead Kennedys vs. Jello Biafra
Band Maintains Control of All Artistic Materials Including Back Catalog, Logo and Use of Band Name associated with Dead Kennedys
Los Angeles, Calif., & San Francisco, Calif. – Seminal punk rock band Dead Kennedys announced today that they have earned total vindication for a second time in a lawsuit filed against them by former lead singer and Alternative Tentacles Records label owner, Jello Biafra.
Three judges of the California Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on June 18, 2003 that Biafra’s appeal, No. A094272, of Dead Kennedys vs. Jello Biafra, Superior Court case No. 998892, has been denied. Biafra’s appeal sought to overturn more than 20 years of band history and take sole control of Dead Kennedys by breaking up the band partnership, known as Decay Music. The ruling means that band members East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and D. H. Peligro will continue to maintain the band’s two decade old partnership with all four members, including Biafra, sharing equally in ownership and control of the bands’ creative works.
The ruling also upholds an earlier court decision at a jury trial by the San Francisco Superior Court in May 2000. Jello Biafra was convicted of knowingly and willingly committing fraudulent acts against his former band mates by withholding monies administered by the Biafra run independent record label, Alternative Tentacles. The jury awarded the band compensatory and punitive damages totaling more than $200,000. Biafra did not dispute that he acted deceptively in his appeal.
"We’ve been dragged through courts for over five years and it's really exciting that the justice system worked the way it's supposed to in this case,” said Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray. "This ruling by the appellate court clearly says that Dead Kennedys and Decay Music are a full partnership. Biafra, regrettably, is left as the only one who thinks otherwise. From the beginning of this ordeal in October 1998, neither Klaus, D.H. nor myself wanted to go to court to settle something that should have been handled reasonably between us. We are relieved that a jury of twelve and all of the judges recognized the truth.”
“Unfortunately, Biafra’s legal miscalculations and media manipulations caused several costly and very public lawsuits, just to settle something we knew the outcome of all along,” said Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride. “The one thing that most people misunderstood about our struggle for control of the very recordings we helped create was simply that we wanted Biafra to recognize our vote in how we wanted our music released. No one seemed to understand that by Dead Kennedys and Decay Music controlling our own catalog, Jello still gets 100% of his record royalties and his music publishing, which is exactly what he is entitled to. We just wanted an equal say in all matters that pertained to the band.”
“The Dead Kennedys were always about honesty, fairness and standing up for the little guy against all odds,” said drummer D.H. Peligro. “This ruling proves that Dead Kennedys still stand for the very same thing.”
The denial by the Appellate Court of Biafra’s appeal means that Dead Kennedys members East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride, D.H. Peligro, along with Jello Biafra, will continue to maintain full control of all artistic materials pertaining to the Dead Kennedys via the Decay Music partnership, of which Biafra is still a full voting member.
Since taking control of the
Dead Kennedys catalog following the trial court’s judgment in January
2001, the band has remastered and reissued their entire back catalog on
both CD and vinyl. The band has also released their first live record,
MUTINY ON THE BAY, a compilation of tracks recorded from 1982-1986 on
Manifesto Records as well as the Target Video, DEAD KENNEDYS - EARLY YEARS
LIVE DVD via Music Video Distributors. A new DVD, DEAD KENNEDYS, IN GOD
WE TRUST, INC. - THE LOST TAPES is set for release on July 22, 2003 from
MVD. A new live recording from 1979 will be released on CD from Manifesto
Records in late 2003/early 2004. Since reissuing the band’s catalog
in 2001 with superior, remastered sound and original artwork, Dead Kennedys’
catalog continues to sell more CDs than they did on the band’s previous
last updated 07/14/04