Category: Archive

Artists wage legal war with Green Linnet

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

According to band manager Stuart Ongley: “Mechanical royalties accumulated and were never paid by Green Linnet, and L_nasa has still not received any publishing royalties.”
As reported last week, L_nasa and Green Linnet have hammered out an agreement, but nonpayment of royalties is also a main contention of a lawsuit filed on Dec. 10 against Green Linnet Records by New York attorney Bob Donnelly on behalf of Altan, Cherish the Ladies, Eileen Ivers, Mick Moloney and Joanie Madden. (This lawsuit was first mentioned in a profile of Bob Donnelly that appeared in the Jan. 15 issue of the Irish Echo.)
The lawsuit has now been followed by a press release issued on July 8 from Anita Daly, a New York publicist hired on retainer by the so-called “Green Linnet Five.” Among other allegations, the press release emphasized “nonpayment of royalties and inappropriately applied deductions” for these artists.
From her Manhattan office, Daly said: “I am servicing the press release to Irish media and mainstream media and setting up interviews. The response has been pretty amazing. I’ve contacted about 278 Irish specialty radio stations in my database and at least half a dozen replied immediately across the country.”

Miramax check
An earlier, longer press release issued jointly by the five artists cited “$65,000 in royalties which Green Linnet acknowledges that it owes to” Eileen Ivers.
According to Brian Mulligan, Ivers’s manager for the last two and a half years and also her husband, that amount includes a check for a $15,000 licensing fee sent to Green Linnet Records by Miramax Films for the use of Ivers’s “Lament for Staker Wallace” track in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film, “Gangs of New York.” The tune was taken from Eileen Ivers’s 1996 solo album, “Wild Blue,” on Green Linnet Records.
Recalling how that unfolded, Green Linnet’s chief operating officer, Chris Teskey, said: “I was contacted by Miramax, which wanted to use the track. I said Eileen has the synchronization rights, so we can only give the original master recording rights because it’s in two copyrights.
“I called [Green Linnet attorney] Dennis Katz with a proposal: let’s give Eileen all $15,000. She keeps her three quarters of the money, and our one quarter of the money goes to her to help pay down a little bit of what we owe her in other royalties, and it will show good faith. I initiated the idea that they could have all the money and that it be paid directly to them from Miramax. But Miramax sent the check to us, even though I instructed them to send it to Dennis. In the meantime, we get served with a lawsuit. We realized that the whole thing now has to go to arbitration, so now we’re not giving them the money.”
A photocopy of the canceled $15,000 check shows that it was dated 11-19-02 and made out to Green Linnet Records. “I have documentation from Miramax that shows an Airborne Express confirmation of Dec. 3 as the send date,” Mulligan said. A photocopy of an HSBC bank statement of transactions also shows that the check had cleared or been deposited by Dec. 5, 2002.
“What gave Green Linnet any legal right, any basis, for cashing half of the Miramax check that had to do with the synchronization license, which they had no right to under any circumstances?” Donnelly said from his Manhattan law office. “Brian [Mulligan] wanted to bring this to the district attorney and pursue it as a criminal matter, and I had to talk him down from that.”
When reached at his law office in Manhattan, Green Linnet’s counsel, Dennis Katz, declined comment.

Demanded royalties
Bob Donnelly and his artists claim “Green Linnet acknowledges that it owes Cherish the Ladies and Joanie Madden over $70,000 in unpaid royalties.”
Speaking from Graffington, England, where Cherish the Ladies was on tour, Joanie Madden said: “We have not received a dime since ‘Threads of Time,’ the first Cherish the Ladies album for RCA in 1998.” After fulfilling their three-album deal between 1992 and 1997 for Green Linnet, the group signed with RCA Victor. “We never got another royalty statement from Green Linnet until Bob Donnelly demanded it, which was maybe six months or so ago.”
Madden also pointed out that “Green Linnet has my own compositions on a bunch of compilation records. They had no right to place any of my own tracks on any compilation without my prior written consent and they have never paid a dime in royalties for those.”
Further incensing Madden was a proposal she received via lawyers a year or so ago. “Green Linnet offered me 25 cents on the dollar, saying take it or leave it. I said, ‘Why would I take 25 cents on the dollar?’ They said they didn’t have the money. But how could they be signing some of these artists to $100,000 contracts if they don’t have the money? Green Linnet offered Cherish the Ladies a $100,000 contract to keep us at the label. I said, ‘Why are you offering us this money if you claim you’re not selling enough of our CDs?’
“There is no excuse to stop accounting to us or communicating with us. What Green Linnet has resorted to, the trickery and meanness, got to the point where we said enough is enough.”
Regarding Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies, Teskey said: “I think that number [over $70,000 owed] is exaggerated. Cherish is over $50,000 and Joanie is about $1,000.”
“We have her breach of contract to counter,” added Green Linnet president and owner Wendy Newton, referring to a solo recording agreement that began with Madden’s “A Whistle on the Wind” in 1994.
Teskey said Madden “was obligated to provide a second solo record to us. She made another solo record and gave it to Hearts of Space. She’s made two solo records for them while owing us another. She breached her agreement with us, so we kept her solo record [‘A Whistle on the Wind’] out because the contract didn’t expire. A contract does not expire because of nonperformance of obligations.”
Madden replied: “I consulted with three different lawyers about this. I owe Green Linnet another solo album, but my contract does not say I owe them the next album. I had every intention of giving them another solo album and had actually started recording it with Tommy Hayes, Noel Hill, Gerry O’Beirne, and Alec Finn. I honor my obligations. That’s my reputation. But then the royalty statements stopped coming. Why would I hand over another album to someone who does not give me statements or account to me?”

Agreement collapsed
From his home in Dublin, Altan member Ciar

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