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Universal close to settlement with Spinal Tap, though wider Vivendi case continues

By | Published on Monday 7 October 2019

This Is Spinal Tap

The ongoing legal battle between the creators of ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and Universal Music is close to settlement according to a new legal filing, though the bigger dispute with the mega-major’s sister company StudioCanal is seemingly ongoing.

It was Harry Shearer who initially went legal against StudioCanal and its owner Vivendi back in 2016, accusing the movie studio and its parent company of misreporting financial information about the film and its spin offs in order to under-pay him royalties due from the franchise. His Spinal Tap co-creators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner subsequently came on board as co-plaintiffs.

Through a series of mergers and acquisitions back in the day, the two Vivendi companies – StudioCanal and Universal Music – ended up respectively controlling the ‘Spinal Tap’ movie and soundtrack rights. Although the Universal music firm was mentioned in the original lawsuit against Vivendi and StudioCanal, it was then formally added as a defendant in its own right in 2017 when Shearer et al added to and expanded on their list of allegations.

It’s the specific dispute with Universal that seems to be close to an out of court settlement. According to Bloomberg, a legal filing last week from lawyers working for both sides stated that: “The parties appear to have reached a resolution in principle of the single remaining issue, subject to completing the documentation”. That settlement should be concluded by 11 Nov.

However, that settlement won’t seemingly affect the bigger dispute with StudioCanal and Vivendi at large. It remains to be seen if a similar settlement can be reached on that side too.

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