KISS Alleges Infringement of Classic Concert Footage in Newly Filed Lawsuit

KISS lawsuit classic concert infringement case
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KISS lawsuit classic concert infringement case
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Photo Credit: John Pratt

KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley claim their copyright of classic concert footage has been infringed on by parties claiming to own various bootleg performances from 1974 to 1977, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS have filed a lawsuit in federal court this week as the collective owners of the KISS catalog, alleging their copyright was infringed on by Applause Licensing and Curt Gooch, who claim ownership of the copyrights to certain performance footage from 1974 to 1977.

Stanley and Simmons say they never authorized Applause or Gooch to use the footage, and seek declaratory judgement as to their copyright, as well as reimbursement from the defendants for their legal fees.

Together, Simmons and Stanley own Kiss Catalog, Ltd., which owns the rights to the KISS IP, and serves as the successor “to the interests that former KISS band members Paul ‘Ace’ Frehley and Peter Criss had in the filmed footage,” to which the lawsuit pertains. It’s unknown if Applause or Gooch claim to have received prior authorization from Criss or Frehley to use the footage.

According to the filing, Applause Licensing is a limited liability company based in Tampa, Florida. Curt Gooch is the founder and co-owner of Applause, and lives in Oklahoma. Alongside Applause and Gooch, the lawsuit lists as defendants 20 people referred to as (John) Does 1 through 20: unknown individuals who “were involved in and/or participated in and/or profited from the infringing activity,” doubtless employees at Applause Licensing.

The lawsuit comes about a week after the band was hit with an unrelated wrongful death lawsuit from the band’s guitar tech’s widow, suing them over the band’s allegedly lax COVID safety protocols that led to her husband’s death.

Fran Stueber, who served as Paul Stanley’s guitar tech for decades, passed away while quarantining in 2021 after contracting COVID during the band’s End of the Road World Tour. His widow, Catherine, along with several members of her family, are suing Simmons, Stanley, longtime manager Doc McGhee, Live Nation, and the hotel chain Marriott International, claiming negligence and wrongful death.

A Rolling Stone investigation conducted nearly two years ago details claims from several individuals on the KISS End of the Road Tour who describe lax COVID safety protocols, including a lack of testing and several crew members who fell ill with the virus before Stueber’s death.