Christina Aguilera filed a lawsuit on May 18th in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the singer's one-time producers and New York City-based Warlock Records, among other defendants.
The suit seeks cost of suit damages and an injunction to stop the release of Just Be Free, a compilation of demos Aguilera recorded when she was fourteen. The album features twelve tracks, including the title track, which Aguilera worked on with defendants, producers Michael Brown and Robert Allecca at BAM Records, Inc. Included in the charges are breach of contract and appropriation of name, voice and likeness for commercial use. According to the suit, "Aguilera was and still is entitled to possession of the demos except for the limited purpose agreed to by defendants Allecca and Brown. These tapes are valuable commodities which belong to Aguilera."
According to Aguilera's attorney, Carla Christofferson, it's primarily an issue of quality control. "[Aguilera] does not believe [the demos] are of the quality that she now produces and that she wants her fans to be able to buy, and she did not authorize their release . . . [The defendants] have been publicizing it with her picture on the cover and trying to trade off of her success."
Christofferson maintains that the purpose of the demos was to shop the singer to record labels and "were in no way intended for widespread commercial distribution." The album is currently available for advance orders at online retailers Amazon.com, Borders.com, TowerRecords.com and BestBuy.com.
As for Warlock, on May 11th, representatives for the label appeared in a U.S. District Court in New York to get a declaration of rights to the recordings. "We respect Christina very much and we respect artist rights very much," said Warlock President Adam Levy, who is also named as a defendant in the suit. While Warlock's court date in New York is set for early July, Levy says a settlement is likely. "Both sides right now are definitely trying to work out an amicable solution to the problem," said Levy.
Warlock nixed the album's June 19th release date, in hopes of working out the matter with Aguilera before marketing the album. Release of Just Be Free is pending the suit's settlement.