Two labels, one artist

In Russia the first trial on a claim of unfair competition from one label to another has ended.

The bone of contention was the release of the new album of The Limba. The distributor Believe sued Atlantic Records Russia and lost the case. The bottom line is that the plaintiff had a contract with the artist, and the album was released under a different label. Even though Believe lost the case, the company can still sue the artist himself.

On January 31, the Moscow Arbitration Court denied the digital distributor’s claim, citing the fact that no act of unfair competition was found. Believe accused Atlantic Records Russia of poaching the artist, although Believe has all the rights to the new album “Anima”. Atlantic Records Russia stated that the artist has fulfilled all obligations to the distributor and can enter into licensing agreements with other labels. The court sided with Atlantic Records Russia.

Further actions of Believe are still unknown, but the company considers the practice of poaching artists, to put it mildly, unfair.

Anatoly Semyonov, deputy chairman of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Committee on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries, said that such situations often arise on the market for poaching artists, but this is the first case of unfair competition. Semyonov considers the court’s decision justified, because the plaintiff and the musician did not have contracts for specific tracks from the album.

The case is considered very interesting not because of the composition of the “crime”, but because of the “loophole” that Atlantic Records Russia took advantage of. The fact is that the court cannot take the side of the plaintiff, since the wording of the license agreement between Believe and The Limba is not precise and clear enough. Perhaps it is this case that will mark the beginning of the revision of license agreements in order to remove all possible inaccuracies and reticence.