An exuberant Michael Lang said the ruling guarantees the event will take place.
There are just a few things he forgot about — a mass gathering permit, a lack of ‘secured’ acts for the show, and the necessary roadwork to hold Woodstock 50.
But for right now, New York Supreme Court Judge Barry R. Ostrager has ruled in favor of Woodstock 50 in a contractual dispute with media and digital marketing giant, Dentsu Aegis.
Judge Ostrager ruled Dentsu Aegi’s music festival production division, Amplifi Live, had no legal right to cancel the event.
Jumping the gun, Woodstock 50 organizer Gregory Peck proudly proclaimed,
“Woodstock 50 is on!”
Despite the ruling, however, Peck, just as with co-founder Michael Lang, has forgotten several key facts.
First, Judge Ostrager declined a key injunction Lang desperately needed to hold the event. He ruled that Amplifi Live doesn’t need to return the $17.8 million in funding it has now denied Woodstock 50 LLC.
Although Lang and Kasowitz pleaded with the judge multiple times about the importance of the event, Judge Ostrager wrote,
“[Woodstock 50] falls woefully short of making the heightened showing necessary to warrant a mandatory injunction ordering Amplifi to return $17.8 million to the Festival Bank Account and to provide W50 with access to the funds in the Account.”
Judge Ostrager also didn’t find Amplifi Live had improperly taken control of the festival or altered its status.
Second, the ruling doesn’t dismiss the fact the music festival still lacks the necessary key elements to hold the August 16th-18th event. These include an on-sale ticket date, a mass gathering permit from Schuyler County in New York, a much-needed production company to produce the event, and the validation of contracts major acts and their talent agencies signed with Dentsu Aegis, not Woodstock 50 LLC.
Third, Woodstock 50 still needs at least $30 million more in funding to ensure the music festival will take place. Following Dentsu Aegis’ now-premature cancelation, Live Nation, C3, and AEG have all denied Lang’s bid for additional funding.
In short, who’s going to foot the bill?
Ignoring these facts, Lang said in a prepared statement,
“We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the Festival would take place. I would like to thank all of the talent and their representatives for their patience and support. Woodstock 50 will be an amazing and inspiring festival experience.”
Praising himself for the victory, Lang’s attorney and former Donald Trump counsel, Marc Kasowitz, added,
“[Dentsu Aegis is now restrained from] canceling the festival or communicating to the media and/or festival stakeholders, including state and county officials, venue operators, local vendors, community representatives, insurers, producers, and talent agencies, and performers.”
Revealing what Judge Ostrager’s ruling truly means, a Dentsu Aegis spokesperson explained the company felt “vindicated to hear” what the court ultimately agreed with.
“Woodstock 50 was not entitled to access the festival bank account per the contract, and thus any access now is denied and the $17.8M remains with Amplifi Live.”
The court also noted that Amplifi Live successfully asserted with “convincing testimony” the company had mitigated damages “from a music festival that couldn’t be successfully produced by mid-August.”
“…Among other reasons, multiple permits necessary to conduct the Festival were not in place, tickets had not yet been sold, no budget had been agreed upon, necessary and expensive structural improvements to the Festival site and related areas had not yet started, and the production company essential to produce the Festival had withdrawn.”
So, despite Lang, Peck, and Kasowitz’s statements, Dentsu Aegis revealed the festival remains completely canceled.
“While we understand that pursuant to the court’s ruling Amplifi Live cannot cancel the festival without Woodstock 50’s agreement, at this time we don’t intend to further invest in the festival due to the issues noted by the court, as well as the compressed timeframe, and multiple health and safety concerns.”
Meanwhile, as Lang, Peck, and other Woodstock 50 organizers continue to deny the event’s cancelation, I’ll leave you with what Judge Ostrager wrote (emphasis mine).
“Passing the issue of whether, as it appears, it’s no longer feasible to conduct the Festival…Amplifi [an arm of Dentsu] doesn’t have the right to unilaterally cancel the Festival.”
Featured image by Petteri Sulonen (CC by 2.0).