Last year, metal labels Earache Records and Century Media Records announced a three-year deal where Century Media would handle all of Earache’s physical product distribution in the US but it looks like things aren’t going very well. According to the Courthouse News Service, the British metal label Earache Records has filed a lawsuit against New York-based The Century Family, an affiliate of the nonparty record label Century Media Records, claiming that the U.S. distributor owes it $250,000 in licensing fees, and broke a promise to release a catalog of hundreds of albums.
Earache claims that The Century Family breached a January 2013 agreement to market and distribute Earache’s music, and attempted to escape its obligations by falsely claiming Earache had breached a three-year licensing agreement. Earache claims that of the 356 albums it delivered to Century, including 10 new releases, the company has distributed only 13 albums in the United States.
Excerpt from the complaint: “Without each album being released in the U.S. during the term of the agreement, it is impossible for Earache Records to earn royalties in the U.S. market (in this case, for several years), and fulfill its obligations to its artists,’ the 17-page lawsuit states. (Parentheses in complaint.) To duck two advance payments of $125,000, Century Family’s lawyers sent the British label a letter that falsely accused it of breaching the licensing agreement, the complaint states. Earache calls that a ‘transparent pretext’ for delaying payment. As well as defaulting on the fees, Century Family allegedly used album artwork and set release dates without Earache’s approval. The U.S. company failed to account for royalties in a timely manner, Earache adds.”
Earache says The Century Family is still marketing and selling Earache’s records in the U.S. market. Earache Records seeks an injunction to prevent them from continuing to distribute Earache releases and $250,000 in damages.