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April 10, 2009

Suit by Heirs to 1950s Singing Groups Moot as N.J. Regulators Change Tune


A challenge to New Jersey's Truth in Music Act by progeny of 1950s-vintage crooner groups The Drifters, The Platters and The Coasters has been dismissed, now that the state has backed off its previously broad view of the law's reach.

The state conceded at a court hearing that a common-law trademark to a group's name is to be given the same force and effect as a registered mark, making it unnecessary for the performers to bill themselves as "tribute groups."

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise ruled Tuesday that the change of tune made the plaintiff's requested injunction moot, and ditto their constitutional attack on the statute, which forbids entertainers from promoting themselves as affiliated with a recording group unless they prove the connection.

The lawsuit was prompted by state Attorney General Anne Milgram's 2007 investigation into concerts planned by the Cornell Gunter Coasters, the Elsbeary Hobbs Drifters and the Platters at the Hilton Casino Resort in Atlantic City.

Hilton, upon being served with a subpoena, discontinued advertising and ticket sales for the shows but the performances went on, with most of the tickets given away and the acts introduced as a "tribute" or "salute."

The group's managers, Singer Management Consultants and Live Gold Operations Inc., supplied the attorney general with documents purportedly showing that they were authorized to associate themselves with the original Coasters, Drifters and Platters.

The Truth in Music Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:32B-1, states five ways in which a performing group may show its connection to a recording group. One way is to show that at least one member of the advertised group was a member of the original band and has legal rights to its name or trademark. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at April 10, 2009 12:00 AM


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