The Jesus and Mary Chain Settle with Warner Music Group Over Termination Rights

WMG The Jesus and Mary Chain settle

Photo Credit: Paul Hudson / CC by 2.0

The Jesus and Mary Chain have settled with Warner Music Group over the band’s efforts to terminate the music label’s rights to its music.

According to court documents filed on Thursday, Warner Music Group and Scottish alt-rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain have settled the band’s lawsuit filed in 2021. The US District Court in Los Angeles agreed to dismiss the band’s case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be filed again.

Neema Amini, a lawyer representing the band, said the dispute was “amicably resolved” with no further details of the settlement provided. The band’s founding members Jim and William Reid, alleged that Warner Music refused to acknowledge their notice to the label that they were reclaiming their copyrights in their debut 1985 album, Psychocandy, and other recordings. The lawsuit followed an initial notice of termination issued to WMG by the band in 2019.

Per the 1976 US Copyright Act, creators can terminate grants of copyright interests of their work after 35 years with certain restrictions. The law has been the subject of lawsuits by and against numerous musicians and other artists. The Reids’ lawsuit sought all of Warner Music’s “gains and profits” of their work in an amount to be determined at trial or $2.55 million in damages. 

In 1985, the band signed with WEA Records, a predecessor to Warner Music, which Warner Music says makes them the original owner of the works — not the band — and that the group could not terminate the copyrights. Additionally, Warner Music told the court that the band’s lawsuit was time-barred, breaching its contract with WEA. 

A trial for the case was set to begin in September. Still, Melissa Battino, VP of Business Affairs at WMG-owned Rhino Entertainment Group, stated in a letter from December 2020 that the band’s initial notice of termination served to Warner Music Group in 2019 would not have been enough to terminate WMG’s US rights, undoubtedly leading to the lawsuit. Battino argues that the band “never owned any copyrights in the recordings” by copyright law in their native UK. Battino adds that having served the termination notice in the first place could breach the band’s original recording contract.