Like two scorned lovers in a country song, Tim McGraw and Curb Records are back in court.
Just months after concluding a two-year legal battle over McGraw’s contract, the Nashville-based label has sued the country singer and his new record label, Big Machine Records, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee for copyright infringement.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims that the copyright to McGraw’s aptly titled Big Machine album “Two Lanes of Freedom” should actually belong to Curb Records. The label alleges that McGraw recorded the songs while he was still under contract with Curb.
The controversy centers around McGraw’s previous album “Emotional Traffic,” which he maintained was his fifth and final record for Curb. But Curb argued in a breach of contract suit filed in 2011 that McGraw recorded those songs during an unauthorized period of time in an attempt to quickly fulfill his contract obligations.
However, that claim was dismissed in Davidson County Chancery Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld Chancellor Russell Perkins’ ruling. Both sides issued conflicting press releases as to the extent of what the court actually decided.
Curb is now asking the federal court to determine that “Two Lanes of Freedom” belongs to them. Further, the suit maintains that McGraw also owes Curb a sixth album due to a 2001 settlement agreement regarding “greatest hits” albums that weren’t fulfilled.
“Curb Records, the recording industry and other industries that rely on personal service contracts ... will suffer broad harm if McGraw and others can ignore the provisions of such agreements, selecting which provisions they may choose to follow and refusing to acknowledge others,” the suit, filed by Curb attorney Jay Bowen, states.
The lawsuit also asks for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to prevent McGraw from recording material until he has fulfilled the Curb contract.
Efforts to reach Big Machine Records were unsuccessful on Monday night.
In the prior lawsuit, McGraw claimed that Curb acted in bad faith by releasing numerous compilations and greatest hits albums to prolong McGraw’s time at the label. McGraw has sold more than 40 million records in two decades as a recording artist.