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Appeal courts back McGraw in Curb dispute

By | Published on Wednesday 26 September 2012

Tim McGraw

An appeals court in Nashville has upheld the 2011 court ruling that said that country star Tim McGraw had fulfilled his contractual obligations to his long-term label partners Curb Records, and was now free to work with other labels.

As previously reported, the nearly two decade relationship between McGraw and Curb ended in legal action in May 2011, with both sides suing the other. At the centre of the litigation was whether McGraw’s album ‘Emotional Traffic’ fulfilled his contractual commitments to the label regards new recordings, whether he was due an advance on it, and whether he was now out of contract with the record company.

In a complicated claim, Curb said the songs on ‘Emotional Traffic’ were not sufficiently new (the company said recordings started in 2008, he claims the studio work took place in 2009/10), and that McGraw therefore remained tied to the label when it came to recordings. McGraw’s lengthy countersuit said the new album was in line with his contract, and that he now considered himself to be a free agent label-wise.

Last November a court sided with McGraw in the squabble, but Curb appealed. But now an appeals court has upheld the original ruling. Which is probably just as well, as since the first hearing McGraw has entered into a new record deal with Big Machine.

Confirming the latest court ruling on the matter, a legal rep for the singer told Billboard this week: “The Court Of Appeals has affirmed the [original judge’s] ruling that Tim McGraw is now finished with being an artist on Curb Records. He’s now a Big Machine artist and he is no longer a Curb artist”.

When McGraw signed to Big Machine earlier this year, Curb issued a statement insisting the singer was still on its roster, and said that the courts would ultimately rule that it would actually own copyrights in any new recordings made under the Big Machine deal. Though this week’s appeal decision does not seem to concur with that view.

According to Billboard, Curb could still appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, though could not then proceed to the federal courts on this issue, meaning just one more route of appeal remains.