Fight Over Money From Beatles Tribute Tour


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) - Two companies behind a Beatles musical revue claim in court that proceeds from the "Rain - A Tribute" tour should not be "held hostage" by their partners because of a separate copyright dispute.
     MagicSpace Entertainment and Rain Corp. claim they are owed nearly $410,000 from ticket and merchandise sales for performances in April and May 2013 and for taxes paid in 2012.
     But defendants Jeff Parry, Nirenna Productions LP and 2468 Nevada LLC "wrongfully conflated the withholding of the money owed plaintiffs ... with resolution of the issues at the heart of the copyright action," the companies claim in a complaint in Westchester County Supreme Court.
     "The instant action is a simple case regarding the failure by the defendants to make payment of monies owed the plaintiffs for services provided from the 'Rain - A Tribute' tour of April and May 2013 pursuant to New York State law," the plaintiffs say.
     Rain Corp., of Reno, Nev., and MagicSpace, of Salt Lake City, are in the business of producing live entertainment events. In "Rain - A Tribute to the Beatles," they stage "a live, multimedia spectacular" that is "the next best thing to the Beatles," according to the Rain - A Tribute website.
     The production, which played on Broadway for 9 months in 2010-11, toured North America and Europe with shows featuring Beatles songs played by mop-haired musicians in period costumes.
     The website lists shows this month in Toronto, next month in Minneapolis and in June in Philadelphia.
     The companies' complaint says that Parry, of Alberta, Canada, is a theatrical producer and principal in defendants Nirenna and 2468 Nevada. Nirenna is identified as a Las Vegas-based theatrical services company.
     According to the complaint, the parties signed a 3-year contract in September 2009 to produce the "Rain - A Tribute" tour, sharing profits and merchandizing revenue. After the contract expired in 2012, "it was constructively extended by a continuing pattern of profit sharing and payments of revenue from the defendants to the plaintiffs," according to the lawsuit.
     After performances in March 2013, the payments stopped, the complaint states, even though shows followed in April and May, on which Nirenna collected ticket receipts.
     The plaintiffs say that combined with $36,000 in taxes paid by MagicSpace in 2012, the defendants owe them $409,994.57.
     In May 2013, Rain Corp. filed an action in Federal Court accusing Parry, Nirenna and affiliated entities of infringing its copyright on material in the musical revue to stage a competing production, called "Let It Be," in London and on Broadway.
     "Defendants have misappropriated plaintiff's copyrighted work without credit or compensation, have deprived them of artistic control over their show, and have been unjustly enriched by taking for themselves the benefit of Rain Corp.'s extensive work producing and creating 'Rain - A Tribute' and 'Let It Be,'" the federal complaint states.
     In the new supreme court action, the plaintiffs say Parry sent them "various electronic correspondences" in May 2013 that "acknowledged the monies owed" from the tour but threatened to withhold payment.
     They say the two complaints should not be linked.
     "Through the instant action, plaintiffs assert their right to not have monies indisputably owed to them held hostage by defendants until the resolution of a complex and unnecessarily related federal case," they say.
     The plaintiffs, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment, seek damages and pre-judgment interest.
     They are represented by Abraham Marston of Exemplar Law in Boston.
     Jeff Parry could not be reached by email Monday evening for comment.