Linkin Park Wants Ex-Bassist’s Lawsuit Tossed Out, Arguing He Can’t Sue Them ‘Decades’ Later

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Attorneys for Linkin Park are pushing to end a lawsuit that accuses the band of refusing to pay royalties to an ex-bassist who briefly played with the band in the late 1990s, saying such claims have been repudiated for “over two decades.”

In a motion to dismiss the case filed Tuesday (Mar. 5), lawyers for Mike Shinoda and other Linkin Park members say Kyle Christner’s lawsuit is “rife with defects.” Among them, they say, is that the statute of limitations on such claims has “long since passed.”

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“Plaintiff claims that defendants … owe him money because he was a member of the band for, at most, eight months, 25 years ago, and was not paid for his ‘contributions’,” writes the band’s lead counsel, prominent music litigator Edwin F. McPherson. “He asserts three claims, each of which fails.”

Christner sued Linkin Park in November, claiming he had been a member of the band for several months in 1999 until he was “abruptly informed” that he had been fired shortly before the band signed a record deal with Warner Records. He accused the band of continuing to profit from songs he helped create, while effectively erasing his involvement.

“Christner has never been paid a penny for his work with Linkin Park, nor has he been properly credited, even as defendants have benefitted from his creative efforts,” his lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

In addition to Shinoda, the lawsuit also named Linkin Park’s other living members (Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson and Joseph Hahn), as well as its business entity, Machine Shop Entertainment, and the band’s label, Warner Records.

The dispute was seemingly triggered by an anniversary re-release of the band’s smash hit 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory, which holds the lofty distinction of being the best-selling rock album of the 21st century. Christener claims the special 2020 box set included several songs to which he had contributed, including a never-before-released demo track that has amassed 949,000 views on YouTube.

But in Tuesday’s response, the band’s lawyers say those allegations are deeply flawed. Among other issues, they say the lawsuit failed to clearly identify what songs Christener was involved with and instead relies on “open-ended” statements like that he’d “likely” been involved in “numerous” songs. “Defendants cannot reasonably be expected to know how to respond to the [lawsuit] without knowing which copyrights are being addressed,” the complaint reads.

For the songs that were properly identified, the band’s attorneys say the lawsuit is clearly barred by the statute of limitations. Copyright ownership disputes must be filed within three years, they say, adding that the band has obviously refused to acknowledge his claims for far longer than that.

“Defendants repudiated Plaintiff’s purported ownership in any and all of the works mentioned in the [lawsuit] more than three years before Plaintiff filed this lawsuit — and indeed for over two decades,” the band’s lawyers wrote.

Even for the never-before-released songs, Linkin Park says Christener missed his window: “The Box Set was released in October, 2020; this action was filed on November 8, 2023 — over three years later.”

In a statement to Billboard on Wednesday, Christner’s attorney Maxwell Goss said he and his client “disagree with the motion and will be opposing it” in a future court filing: “Mr. Christner made valuable contributions to Linkin Park at a pivotal time for the band,” Goss said. “He just wants his creative work acknowledged and compensated.”

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