Record Label Sues Tim McGraw for Masters


     NASHVILLE (CN) - Curb Records sued Tim McGraw, claiming it signed him first, in 1997, and it owns the copyrights to his newest album.
     Curb Records sued Samuel T. McGraw pka Tim McGraw, McGraw Music LLC and Big Machine Records, in Federal Court.
     Curb claims its recording agreement with McGraw, which "has yet to expire," stated: "'You hereby grant and convey to Curb and confirm that Curb shall be the exclusive perpetual owner of all Masters (and all other recordings [if any] embodying your performances during the term hereof throughout the universe, including without limitation, all copyrights therein as a 'work made for hire.' Curb and all parties authorized by Curb shall have the exclusive right to exploit the masters (and all other such recordings), and to use your name, voice and likeness with respect to such exploitation.'" (Parentheses and brackets in complaint.)
     Curb claims McGraw owes it a fifth album. It adds: "On or about May 21, 2012, defendant Big Machine Records announced that it had entered into a recording contract with defendant McGraw. Defendant McGraw has stated that he has recorded at least twenty (20) recordings for his 'debut' for Big Machine Records and, in addition, a Christmas record which he has exploited outside of the recording agreement. Each of these recordings was recorded during the term of the recording agreement, and is, therefore, a 'Master' owned by Curb Records."
     McGraw's first album for Big Machine was released on Feb. 5 as "Two Lanes of Freedom," and included his newest singles, "One of Those Nights" and "Truck Yeah."
     McGraw Music claims it owns the copyrights to the songs, but Curb Records claims that "as of the date of this complaint, the United States Copyright Office does not reflect any registration of those copyrights or applications therefor by defendants."
     "McGraw recorded the undelivered masters before the expiration of the term of the recording agreement because the fifth option period album has yet to be delivered to Curb Records. Even if the album 'Emotional Traffic,' which McGraw asserts is the fifth option period album, is found to constitute the fifth option period album, it has not been delivered to Curb Records and therefore, the undelivered masters were recorded during the term of the recording agreement. Curb Records, therefore, owns, exclusively, the undelivered masters, and the copyrights therein."
     Curb alleges numerous other breaches of contract, including that:
     "McGraw ignored his obligation to allow Curb Records to approve the content of his purported fifth option period album; and
     "McGraw recorded two albums at once (claiming each to be an option period album), during the fourth option period, contrary to the provisions of the recording agreement."
     It claims that McGraw "ignored his obligation to provide all recordings to Curb Records, instead hiding recordings recorded during the term of the recording agreement, some of which Curb Records has paid for, and erasing certain of those recordings that belonged exclusively to Curb Records."
     Curb Records seeks declaratory judgment that it is the sole owner of the copyrights contained in the undelivered master recordings, and compensatory and punitive damages for copyright infringement, breach of contract and conversion.
     It is represented by Jay Bowen, with Bowen and Unger, in Nashville.