Courtney Lawsuit Stays Alive

Judge rules that Love can take on Universal over assignment clause

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A Los Angeles judge has ruled that Courtney Love's lawsuit to break her recording contract with Universal-Vivendi can go forward.

In response to a motion by Universal-Vivendi, Superior Court Judge Fumiko Wasserman said Love could proceed with four of the fifteen causes of action brought in her April contract suit, including a challenge to the assignment clause, which allows record companies to sell artists' contracts without their consent, and her actions for punitive damages over alleged improper royalty practices.

"It's a good ruling for us," says Love's attorney, A. Barry Cappello, who characterized Wasserman's decision as a blow to Universal-Vivendi, which has portrayed Love's suit as frivolous and a publicity stunt. The ruling also gave Love the right to replead her actions, and Cappello predicts that "at least half" of the original complaint will be reinstated before the case is expected to go to trial later this year.

One setback for Love was Wasserman's refusal to include the biggest item in the complaint: a challenge to a special provision of the California Labor Code that allows record contracts to run longer than that state's seven-year limit on personal contracts. At the time she filed her suit, Love had expressed the hope that she could knock out the provision and, in essence, create a free agency for rockers by shortening the length of time they are contractually bound to a record label.

Still, the decision to allow Love to proceed with her challenge of the assignment clause is not good news for record companies, who currently rely on their ability to buy and sell artist contracts as a way to build or unload record companies.