Stuart Ongley, Lunasa’s manager, said last week that the leading traditional music label has refused to acknowledge that the edition of “Redwood” for sale in North America is a “faulty copy” and that Green Linnet “refuses to use the correct artwork on the covers.”
He added that the band is “owed tens of thousands of dollars” in royalties and for the master copy of “Redwood.” Similar complaints by other artists signed by Green Linnet in recent years have led to at least one lawsuit being filed against the company and the American Federation of Musicians Local 1000 has represented complaints against Green Linnet since 2001.
Green Linnet owner and creative director Wendy Newton denied the allegations, which Ongley said would lead to a legal challenge if Green Linnet did not respond.
“I assure you, there is no story,” Newton said, referring to Lunasa’s allegations. “We have received no cease-and-desist notices. We have received threats.”
In 2002, Green Linnet received legal notice that royalties had not been paid for several years by the label to a number of famous Irish performers and groups: Eileen Ivers, Altan, Joanie Madden, Cherish the Ladies and Mick Moloney.
That legal fight continues through entertainment lawyer Bob Donnelly, who characterized Green Linnet as a powerful record label using its traditional music market dominance to escape paying royalties to its artists.
Ongley said that Lunasa has taken legal advice and “have issued notices and we are on a legal journey as advised by our lawyers.”
He said that the band has sent Green Linnet several cease-and-desist notices and that the company was on its final warning before facing a legal fight: “Green Linnet are very used to being attacked legally.”
But Chris Tesky of Green Linnet said that Ongley’s comments were “absolutely 100 percent false.”
Lunasa has said that their main complaint is the artistic integrity of “Redwood.”
“[Green Linnet] has at some stage taken it from a Japanese pressing,” said Ongley of the album’s master copy. “Some of the pressings have an unusual sonic quality, so we analyzed it in Nashville and it seems to have been copied through a computer, therefore the quality is diminished.”
Tesky responded that Lunasa had supplied a master copy for the album and then sent a new master copy on June 2, which he said Green Linnet immediately entered into production.
“Lunasa provided us with a master copy that they later said was defective,” he said.
But Ongley insisted that the “Redwood” version currently available to the public in record stores around the world is inferior, although the sonic distortion he described would not be noticed by everyone.
“Musical sound engineers and some members of the public will notice it,” Ongley said. “We warned Green Linnet and they went ahead and published it. That’s what’s most disappointing.”
Furthermore, Ongley alleged, the master copy sent on June 2 to Green Linnet has not been entered into production.
“I have been in contact with our distributors worldwide, and not one of them has told me that the correct master is being produced. It is still the faulty copy. They are selling off the first run.
“Lunasa love their music,” he continued. “They deserve better than this. Fans have followed Lunasa for years and they’re reduced to buying a substandard product,” which Ongley said included an album cover unacceptable to the band.
Tesky said that Lunasa never sent an album cover to Green Linnet, and that the company is under no contractual obligation to accept an album cover submitted by a band.
“We ordinarily package our own covers,” he said. “Lunasa has no contractual right to supply the cover.”
Ongley acknowledged that Lunasa has no contractual right to supply the album cover but that for previous albums this had been the case.
He said that today, June 26, Green Linnet would receive notice that they have 30 days to pay for the master copy of “Redwood.”
In the past, Ongley alleged, Green Linnet did not respond to artists’ complaints or fended off complaints with legal threats.
“I know how [smaller artists] compete: they just don’t,” he said. After 30 days, “we will issue a writ.”