(CN) – American Idol finalist turned hit maker Chris Daughtry sued his former band mates in an effort to get a federal judge to declare he’s the sole writer of songs he recorded before he was famous.
Daughtry was an American Idol finalist during the show’s fifth season, and he signed with RCA Records shortly thereafter. He then formed a band to record his debut album, which reached number one on Billboard’s pop music charts, and went on to sell more than four million records in the U.S. alone.
The band’s second album debuted at number one in July 2009, and it has since sold over 1.3 million copies.
According to Daughtry, prior to his American Idol success, he and defendants Ryan Andrews, Scott Crawford and Mark Perry were members of a band named Absent Element, and they even recorded a seven-song album, entitled “Uprooted.”
“On April 4, 2006, Defendants wrongfully filed, without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, a copyright registration … claiming that the parties were the “co-authors of all lyrics, music and performance of all 7 songs …” the complaint says.
Daughtry says he was never aware of the registration and only learned of it in March 2012.
“Although Plaintiff does not dispute that the parties jointly recorded the songs on the “Uprooted” album and are equal co-owners of the copyrights in the sound recordings embodied on the album, Defendants did not co-author the music or lyrics for the songs set forth in the copyright registration that they filed,” the complaint says.
Daughtry claims he is the sole author of the music and lyrics of three of the songs on “Uprooted”; while he and defendant Perry co-authored two of the others; and he, Perry defendant Andrews wrote another.
“Plaintiff has never executed a memorandum, contract or any other written instrument transferring any interest in the copyrights to the musical compositions or the sound recordings identified herein to any of the Defendants,” the complaint says.
Daughtry seeks a declaration that he and his former band mates did not jointly offer all the music and lyrics on the “Uprooted album,” and that he is the sole author of the songs, “Breakdown Conviction,” “Keep Me Close,” and “Weaker Side.”
He is represented by David Brown of Nelson Brown & Co., in Greensboro, N.C., and Leon Gladstone of Gladstone, Michel, Weisberg, Willner & Sloane ACL in Marina del Rey, Calif.
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