Harry Shearer sues Vivendi, StudioCanal to pay back $125 million to creators of Spinal Tap

How selfish could Vivendi and StudioCanal be over the profits from 32 years of This Is Spinal Tap? The answer is none. None more selfish.

Harry Shearer, who created the fictional yet real metal band Spinal Tap alongside comedians Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, then brought it to life with director Rob Reiner for a TV special, 1984 mockumentary, albums and actual concert tours, filed a lawsuit this week in federal court in Los Angeles, seeking $125 million in damages for unshared profits from Vivendi and its subsidiary, StudioCanal.

McKean and Reiner backed Shearer with their support Tuesday on social media to their followers.

Said Shearer in a video message, as well as a site he created called Fairness Rocks, that in the past three decades plus: “The creators have been told that global music sales from the soundtrack album total just US$98. We’re also, apparently, only entitled to share US$81 (between us) from global merchandising sales.”

His lawsuit claims Vivendi failed to collect royalties and allowed trademarks to lapse.

Further, Shearer said Fairness Rocks may help other creators seek their fair compensation from the corporations with whom they’ve done business. “If you’re a fellow creator, the information on this site may be of interest. The rights campaigners listed here may well be able to help you. Good luck.”

Film Rights Campaigners
Independent Filmmakers Alliance (IFA) (US)
The IFA is a world wide organization dedicated to encouraging indie filmmaking around the globe. The Alliance facilitates the exchange of information between filmmakers from around the world, serves as a resource center for filmmakers, organizes industry workshops and conferences, stimulates new projects through competitions, and engages in other such activities to move independent film production forward.

Writers & Directors Worldwide
An international, not-for-profit organisation, that works to protect the rights and promote the interests of writers and directors working in the audiovisual, literary and dramatic repertoires.

Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) (Europe)
FERA’s mission is to enhance the recognition of the cultural significance of audiovisual works and to defend their integrity in 21st century Europe. FERA represents directors as the primary creators of audiovisual works.

The Producers’ Alliance of Cinema and Television (PACT) (UK)
Pact is the trade association representing the commercial interests of UK independent television, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies.

Directors (UK)
Directors UK was launched in June 2008 as the single voice of British film and television directors. It is now both a collecting society and campaigning body with nearly 6,000 members. Directors UK exists to ensure that the importance of directors and their work is recognised, and to give directors a powerful and united voice at the centre of the industry.

International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) (Worldwide)
CISAC is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies. CISAC protects the rights and promotes the interests of creators worldwide across all the creative disciplines. They enable collective management organisations to ensure that royalties flow to authors of literature, music, art and film for the use of their works anywhere in the world. CISAC is presided over by electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre. Founded in 1926, CISAC is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation with headquarters in France.

Music Rights Campaigners
International Council of Music Authors (CIAM) (Int’l)
CIAM promotes and protects the rights of composers and songwriters. It is the umbrella body that works to unify the voice of music creators of all repertoires worldwide. CIAM commissioned the study “Fair Compensation for Music Creators in the Digital Age” Study for Fair Compensation.
Fair Trade Music (Int’l)
Fair Trade Music International is an independent not-for-profit organisation launched by thousands of music creators from around the world. The body has developed Fair Trade Music Certification in order to draw attention to, and reward, equitable music business practices and help bring about an ethical, sustainable and transparent music economy.

International Federation of Musicians (Int’l)
The International Federation of Musicians, founded in 1948, is the international organisation for musicians’ unions and equivalent representative organisations. It includes some 70 member organisations in 60 countries throughout the world.

International Artists’ Organisation (Int’l)
The IAO provides a collective voice to protect and promote the rights and interests of professional music artists, also known as ‘Featured Artists’, at European and International level.

Featured Artists’ Coalition (UK)
The Featured Artists Coalition campaigns for the protection of UK performers’ and musicians’ rights. They want all artists to have more control of their music and a much fairer share of the profits it generates in the digital age.

Music Managers Forum (UK)
Providing a collective voice and leadership to affect change for a transparent and fairer music industry and working to create opportunities to develop and grow music artists’ businesses. Published the two-part study, Dissecting the Digital Dollar.

Music Managers Forum (US)
A platform to connect, enhance and reinforce the expertise and professionalism of music managers in the US. The goal is to further the interests of managers and their artists in all fields of the music industry, including live performance, recording and music publishing matters.

Music Creators North America
An alliance of independent songwriter and composer organisations that advocates for and educate on behalf of the US and Canadian music creator communities. Launched in 2012, it was largely in response to legislative and legal setbacks for creators when it became clear that new approaches were needed, that individual and national solutions were no longer enough in an increasingly globalised environment for creators.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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