Harry Shearer Sues Vivendi’s Universal, Studiocanal for $125 Million Over Music Copyrights to ‘Spinal Tap’

Elsa Keslassy
Variety

CANNES, France — Harry Shearer is suing Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Studiocanal for $125 million for allegedly fraudulent accounting of the music revenues from Rob Reiner’s 1984 film “This is Spinal Tap.”

Shearer, who co-created and starred in the classic mockumentary, is seeking $125 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

“This is Spinal Tap” follows the legendary British heavy metal band Spinal Tap as they organize a comeback tour. The spoof was created by Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner.

Shearer, who co-wrote the soundtrack to the film, filed suit in the Central District Court of California on Tuesday over the alleged underpayment of music royalties. The lawsuit says that Vivendi reported only $98 in total income from soundtrack music sales between 1989 and 2006. As far as worldwide merchandising income, Vivendi reported only $81 between 1984 and 2006, the lawsuit says.

Vivendi has “failed and refused, and continues to fail and refuse, to provide Plaintiff with proper and accurate accountings reflecting the amount of revenues derived from the distribution and exploitation of the Film and associated music and merchandise rights,” the complaint alleges.

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