Frankie Valli And Ex-Jersey Boys Actors Sue Each Other Over Who Can Sing What Songs

from the ownership-society dept

When you’re involved in a successful production, sooner or later lawsuits are going to pop up. A couple years ago, we wrote about a legal fight concerning the “ownership” of the famous story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, as chronicled in the massively successful Broadway musical, Jersey Boys. That lawsuit concerned whether or not anyone could claim ownership of basic facts about these guys, as the widow of a guy, who wrote an (unpublished) biography of one of the band members, wanted a cut of the play’s revenue. However, it seems as though there are some other lawsuits surrounding the Jersey Boys as well. Apparently Frankie Valli and the four original cast members of Jersey Boys are engaged in a legal battle that’s turning nasty.

The cast members want to go around performing covers of the songs in the play. Normally, performing covers is perfectly legal, given that the various compulsory licenses are paid. However, what makes this situation a little tricky is the fact that the musical is still out there. So Valli sued the cast members, saying that they weren’t just performing covers, but they were creating a competing “unauthorized” musical, including, copying not just songs but “stage elements” and “logos” from the play.

The four cast members are now counter-suing, claiming that the original lawsuit is “motivated by petty vindictiveness and malice,” and saying that Valli is “using bully tactics better suited for the schoolyard.” All of that may be true, but it’s not clear that much matters in the context of a lawsuit. Much more convincing is the basic claim that everything these four guys are doing is legal. It’s factually accurate that they performed in Jersey Boys and can sing those songs, with the proper compulsory license. But, of course, with the added elements of the play, the copyright question gets a bit murkier. All it really shows is how copyright is, yet again, being used to stop performances and creativity, because someone claims to “own” parts of culture. What a shame.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Frankie Valli And Ex-Jersey Boys Actors Sue Each Other Over Who Can Sing What Songs”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
TAM says:

Re: Re: Re:

My basement is tiled with gold bricks paid for with the royalties that I used to get before the pirates started stealing money that belongs to me.

Cover bands aren’t even real bands. If they were they wouldn’t have to steal other people’s music without giving the money that the original artists deserved to them.

TAM says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well that right there proves my point. It’s always in the dollar bin at the record shop I shop at. Nobody likes the music before the copyright dates. Also one guy playing a piano doesn’t make a band.

Sadly tribute bands aren’t worth a dime. They are stealing other people’s music and not paying for it.

Mojo_LA says:

Do tribute bands pay royalties?

Found this:

As a member of a Beatles tribute act I have had cause to find out about this. Technically, a band that is still trading as a live act (such as The Eagles who have recently reformed) could arguably have a cause for legal action against a tribute act if it could be shown that they were losing audiences to the tribute act (or were otherwise being undermined or devalued by the presence of the tribute act). of course, this would be most unlikely, but it’s not impossible. There could also be a case for an audience member to take an action if he were duped into believing that a tribute act were the real thing. The reality is, though, that most big acts are more than happy for tribute acts to ply their trade – it’s effectively free promotion for the ‘real’ act’s records. As for PRS, the same rules apply to tribute acts as to anyone else. Tribute acts have to pay PRS fees for sound clips used on their websites. As for live performances, it is the responsibility of the venue (not the act) to pay the PRS fees. Most major live venues will be well used to paying their PRS fees, but for private performances (and for most tribute acts, weddings, parties etc. are the main source of work), the PRS doesn’t usually bother pursuing fees as it’s too difficult to police


Louis Gallina says:

Jersey Boys Lawsuit

Your column is ridiculous. Frankie Valli is CORRECT to limit usage. Singing the songs from the show is fine, but any form or recreating staging and storyline should not be allowed to be done by ANY PREVIOUS CAST MEMBERS. This is one of the best broadway shows ever and Frankie Valli is one of hte nicest people ever. It’s his life story and his music. These cast members should show some respect FOR THE MAN AND THE MUSIC THAT PUT THEM ON THE MAP!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...