Dead Kennedys Dispute
Words: What Was Said
"Jello isn't receiving any royalties from sales of the DK re-issues currently in circulation via Decay/Manifesto (North America) and Decay/Plastic Head (Europe) or MVD Video, none of which were authorized by Biafra." -Biafra press release 1/14/02
Biafra has received and cashed royalty payments from Manifesto, Decay Music, Plastic Head, and MVD Video. Biafra has earned over $105,000 in income for the year 2001 alone. Biafra did something wrong and is consequently obligated to pay legal costs from his income.
"I do not support and did not authorize these so-called 'reissues' " -Biafra
Biafra however accepts the money for these reissues. And in what appears to be a double standard, Biafra himself issued the Dead Kennedys catalogue against the authorization of any of the other band members for 3 years until a court order stopped him.
"I am no longer credited with writing any of the music to my own songs." -Biafra
The releases clearly display his name on them as a songwriter.
"I am embarrassed by the poor performances on the live album." -Biafra
Biafra's story has changed. He was originally enthusiastic about the live album when it was going to be released on ATR and he would as a result make the extra profit from it. Biafra has not offered the other band members or the fans a better-sounding live tape.
"They claim they are a democracy, but I am not allowed to vote." -Biafra
Biafra has voted. Because he is outvoted doesn't mean he is not part of a democracy. Biafra's views on democracy seem to shift depending on what's only best for him.
Biafra has always told everyone, including journalists, all the bands on Alternative Tentacles and the other Dead Kennedys, that he never made any profit from Alternative Tentacles Records [ATR]: "Biafra has never taken a penny in salary or profit from Alternative Tentacles." -ATR press release 11/4/98
At the trial, Biafra's income tax returns showed that he averaged around $39,000 a year profit from Alternative Tentacles Records throughout the '90s.
"When we found the discrepancy and totaled it up, we paid them the money before their lawsuit was even filed. There was no court order then." -Biafra
"You refer to a 'discrepancy' in the accounting but no such discrepancy exists." & "You are not authorized to distribute any of the proceeds from this check to your clients or yourself without further written approval from my client or by order of Court." -letter from Richard F. Stott [Biafra's attorney and former Dead Kennedys attorney] to Decay's representative 10/20/98
At first Biafra claimed that Dead Kennedys agreed to be paid less than the other bands: "From 1989-97, he [Biafra] said, the three were paid based on a retail price of $10.98 per CD, an arrangement agreed upon by all band members in 1989." -sonicnet.com [All other artists on Alternative Tentacles were paid on $11.98 per CD.] & "Meanwhile, Biafra denies he promised the band the highest label royalties. But he also acknowledges he raised the wholesale price, though he stresses that even if stores raised their retail prices in response, he was under no obligation to tell the band, let alone share the additional revenue with them." -Spin
The story is later changed to: "Biafra's manager, Greg Werckman, claims Alternative Tentacles is responsible for a huge oversight that has since been rendered good by the label. 'The basis for this is that the Dead Kennedys were underpaid for a period of eight or nine years - they didn't catch it, we didn't catch it - but there was nothing illegal about it,' says Werckman." -rocktropolis.com. The royalties due were not "rendered good" by Alternative Tentacles at the time. It took almost two years of litigation before the band actually received the royalties.
"We offered to correct the situation and recalculate the royalty changes in the SRLP over the last ten years. Beyond that, I offered to make up the difference from my own royalties." -Biafra press release 10/2/98
"The proffered payment of a royalty of 12% of an $11.98 SRLP retroactive to CD sale number one in 1988 is in consideration of a new Licensing Agreement. It is not a royalty owed Decay Music nor is it an arrearage on royalties. As your clients well know, Decay Music has been paid every dime it has earned from ATR over the last 10 years." -letter from Richard F. Stott [Biafra's attorney] to Decay Music's representative 9/15/98
"When the question of royalty rates [for Dead Kennedys] was brought up, it was myself and the label manager at the time who discovered it [the DKs were paid less]. As soon as Jello found out about it, he said, 'That's terrible.' And obviously it affected Jello, too, because a big part of that money is his. He said that we had to pay the band back right away." -Greg Werckman 6/28/01
"When I found out they [Dead Kennedys] were being paid less than the other bands [on Alternative Tentacles Records], I said 'Let's rectify this right away.' That's when Biafra made his biggest mistake. They [Biafra and his attorney Richard Stott] decided for legal reasons to find out what Ray was looking for and then used this as some kind of bargaining tool. That was a mistake. No matter what they were fighting over, they should have right away said, 'We have found a discrepancy here. Let's make this good.' " -Greg Werckman 5/6/99
"Another example is the censored version of Dead Kennedys' song, 'Police Truck,' in the Tony Hawk Pro Skateboard game. The offer originally came to Alternative Tentacles, and as legally obliged, we copied it to East Bay Ray. We never heard from Ray again. Needless to say I would never have agreed to any of our songs being censored just to appear in a video game. I have no idea what happened to the band's share of the money either." -Biafra
Biafra approved this use of "Police Truck" by a fax dated May 5, 1999 sent to Ray, and Biafra received his share of the income. No income has been found missing during audits of the Decay Music books performed by Biafra's accountant, Michael Miller CPA, and attorneys, John Stewart and Paul Keating.
"Ray and the others have refused all requests for a full and proper accounting of Decay Music's books. No correspondences, no invoices, no statements, nothing." -Biafra
For the year 2001 alone, Biafra has requested and received over 1,300 pieces of accounting statements, invoices correspondences.
"Nor am I part of this ex-DKs 'personal appearance' in Los Angeles sponsored by, get this, Best Buy (!) to promote the movie 'Rage.' " -Biafra
The Sept 26 DK Kennedys show in Los Angeles was not sponsored by the movie "Rage" or by Best Buy. There was a "Rage" premiere on August 30, where Don Bowles of The Germs, Geza X and East Bay Ray spoke. Free tickets to the "Rage" premiere were given away by several companies, including Best Buy.
last updated 06/22/04
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