The band Neurosis sued Jello first which lead to the lawsuit from the other members of the Dead Kennedys. Here is what Scott Kelly from Neurosis has to say about Jello.
What happened with AT?
Alternative Tentacles ripped us off. That’s the simple version. They cooked the books and we called them on it. They accused us of all sorts of things and being greedy. And it was only about $3000!
It was basically an honor thing. There was no honor there. I don’t know what to say about it except that I was proud to be on the label when they approached us to do us records. We held them in high regard and it couldn’t be further from that now.
Label head Jello Biafra (former singer of the Dead Kennedys) also lost a lawsuit filed by his former band mates essentially claiming he’d been withholding royalties on the back catalog.
They won in court because they were correct. If he would rip us off for a small amount of money then he’d go after them for huge amount of money. When is the last time he had to punch a clock or worry about rent? He doesn’t. Who lives in a house on the hill? He does. I live in a trailer in the woods. I have a day job and always have. What he did to his fellow band mates is all there in black and white.
Hey Jim - In music, songwriting credits are pretty well defined. They weren't the basis of the dispute between Jello & the other DKs. There's another bundle of rights attached to the sound recordings. That's what they were fighting about. Both fall under copyright law. I could explain more if you wanted me to. Most creative businesses play by similar sets of rules.
Here's a fairly accurate and succinct account of what went down. I know the racket & the writer & a number of the people in the article but I don't really have any side. I could list everything they did wrong - the perfect storm:
The two issues central to this decision were the nature of their partnership (or lack thereof) and the fact that litigation is a total crap shoot, you never want to go there. Juries never understand copyright; few judges, either. Add to that: Jello didn't do himself any favors in the courtroom.
By the way, did we figure out the ski lift where that shot was taken?
Hey Jim - you can call me Joe - but that's as far as I'll go online since I don't want to out myself here!
It's kinda hard for me to respond. Half of me wants to go PUNK ROCK when every other band was the enemy, Ray's a lovable idiot, Klaus is a shitty bass player. But that was before I was taught professional courtesy. I couldn't really generalize about "people who try to make money through art" because there are all sorts of different characters.
I didn't want to click on your link because I'd never listen to Gene Simmons. But I did - hey that's Henry Rollins! - now that's who you want to go climbing with, the dude's a gem. He paid me one of my greatest compliments - better yet, he told my boss, he didn't tell me.
What Gene Simmons says there is half right and half Gene Simmons. Yes, the record business is finished, that's for sure. Yes, you are selling fantasy, but if that's your day job, it helps to have at least one foot firmly planted in reality, you know? The best artists I worked with had dynamic public personas; off-stage, they were regular folks, we'd talk about sports, our moms, goof around.