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The Recent Lawsuits Involving GNR

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ANSWER: Axl and GNR are no strangers to lawsuits. In the past, Axl has faced lawsuits from his ex-wife Erin Everly and ex-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour. There have also been legal battles involving drummer Steven Adler.

However, over the past two years, several more high-profile suits have kept Axl busy.

- Legal issues involving promoter Clear Channel over the scrapped 2002 tour. To date, neither side has ever given any official statement on the reason for the plug being pulled on the tour or exactly who was to blame.

- In late 2003, Axl - along with Slash and Duff - filed a suit to stop the release of GNR's Greatest Hits album, which had been slated to come out in November 2003. The band members were upset that they had not been consulted about the album or the tracks that were chosen for the album. The album's release was delayed for a number of months, sparking rumors that the label had given Axl an ultimatum. According to the rumor, Axl was told that if Chinese Democracy wasn't out by March 31, 2004, the GH would be released instead. CD wasn't ready, and on March 23, Greatest Hits was released.

- In April 2003, Axl's longtime friend and photographer Robert John filed a suit against Axl, where he accused Axl of not honoring a contract to pay him $80,000 for pics he had taken.

- In July 2004, Axl - along with Slash and Duff - also filed a suit to stop Hollywood Rose from releasing an album of old demo tracks, called "Hollywood Rose: The Roots of Guns N' Roses," which promoted the album as early GNR songs. In the suit, Axl argued that the album's release would cut into sales and promotion of GNR's Greatest Hits album - which ironically, Axl had also tried to block in court a few months earlier. Again, they lost the court battle, and the album was released.

- In May 2004, Slash and Duff filed a suit against Axl over rights to the old GNR songs. In the suit, the former Gunners said Axl had killed deals that would have put their songs in a half dozen movies, including "Just Married," "We Were Soldiers," "Death to Smoochie," and "Old School." This suit is still ongoing.

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Here's a story that appeared on May 3, 2004 on the Celebrity Justice website about the suit between Axl and the former Gunners over rights and royalties to the GNR songs.

Former Guns N' Roses Members Fight for Control of Songs

May 3, 2004

Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses ruled rock in the '80s with hits like "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Paradise City." The original band members parted ways in 1995, but now, former band mates Slash, whose real name is Saul Hudson, and Duff McKagan are suing Rose, claiming he ripped them off to the tune of at least a million dollars.

Duff and Slash now have a new band called Velvet Revolver, and are about to go on tour. But they're bound to have some things on their mind -- mainly the lawsuit against their former front man which pertains to who controls the rights to old Guns N' Roses hits.

In the suit, Duff and Slash claim Rose doesn't have any controlling interest in the songs, but they say he killed deals that would have put their tunes in a half dozen movies, including "Just Married," "We Were Soldiers," "Death to Smoochie" and "Old School."

And you won't hear the band's huge hit, "Welcome to the Jungle" in the movie "Blackhawk Down," because, according to the lawsuit, Axl wouldn't let the producers use it. Instead, he wanted to re-record it, thereby allegedly cheating his ex-band mates out of the licensing fee.

David Powell runs "The Music Bridge," a company that deals with music rights for movies. According to Powell, "Licensing is very important for any band or any artist that gets out there in popular culture."

In Powell's business, when the movies come calling, most bands seem eager to participate, since, "There are many income streams that can be generated from the songs, as well as the master recordings, for years and sometimes generations to come."

And here's a link to the court filing itself:

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Here is the latest legal development.

It appeared on the Associated Press on Feb. 1, 2005.

Axl Rose Publishing Deal Fuels Feud

The Associated Press

1 February 2005

Associated Press Newswires

© 2005. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Rock recluse Axl Rose has signed a multimillion dollar publishing deal, and that isn't sitting well with his former Guns N' Roses bandmates.

The deal with music powerhouse Sanctuary Group covers both the back catalogue, which includes hits such as "Sweet Child of Mine," "Paradise City" and "November Rain," as well as Rose's future material, including dozens of new tracks he recently recorded for Universal Music.

After burning up charts and selling out stadiums around the world in the late '80s and early '90s, Guns N' Roses endured a bitter split, leaving only Rose and keyboard player Dizzy Reed to soldier on under the GNR banner. Former members Slash (Saul Hudson) and Duff (Michael) McKagan, now part of the band Velvet Revolver, filed a lawsuit against Rose last year over who controls the rights to the old GNR songs. The suit is still pending.

McKagan's lawyer, Glen Miskel, expressed surprise when told of the Sanctuary deal. He said Rose, Slash and Duff were part of a partnership and "neither Sanctuary nor Axl Rose have provided the remaining partners with a copy of that agreement." He added Rose is trying to transfer copyright interests in songs which "are not owned by Mr. Rose." Guns N' Roses' manager Merck Mercuriadis, who just so happens to be CEO of Sanctuary Group, said he didn't want to comment beyond the announcement of the deal.

Industry experts have valued the 20-year deal at about $19 million. Guess a Guns N' Roses reunion won't be happening anytime soon.

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Here's the latest update on the publishing rights feud. Duff and Slash have now sued Axl.

Slash, Duff Sue Axl Over Guns N' Roses Publishing Royalties

They say he sold the rights without their consent and is pocketing the profit.

It's been over a decade since the original members of Guns N' Roses went their separate ways, but their feud is still going strong.

Slash and Duff McKagan filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles on Wednesday against Axl Rose, accusing the GN'R frontman of changing the publisher of the group's copyrighted songs without their consent and pocketing the royalties.

The lawsuit follows Rose's multimillion-dollar publishing deal with Sanctuary earlier this year, in which he sold the publishing rights to the GN'R back catalog. "Suffering an apparent attack of arrogance and ego ... Rose recently decided that he is no longer willing to acknowledge the contributions of his former partners and bandmates in having created some of rock's greatest hits," the lawsuit reads.

Though the Sanctuary deal was reported on by the press, Slash and Duff claim they weren't aware of the scope of Rose's dealings — which they say he "omitted and concealed" — until their expected royalty payments for the first quarter of 2005 didn't arrive in the mail. "When the ASCAP check didn't come, we called and they looked into it," McKagan's lawyer, Glen Miskel, said. "We didn't know all the facts at first."

Miskel said that only last week did they discover that Rose had notified ASCAP on or around May 26 that he was switching over the publishing from Guns N' Roses to Black Frog Music Publishing (which he owns) and Kobalt Songs Music Publishing (which is a joint venture with and handles the administration of Sanctuary's publishing). Consequently, the ASCAP check for the first quarter of 2005 — some $92,000 — went to Rose and "his accomplices" instead, the lawsuit contends.

"Rose's actions were malicious, fraudulent and oppressive, and undertaken in conscious disregard of [slash and Duff's] property rights," the lawsuit reads. They're seeking damages for fraud, copyright infringement and breach of fiduciary duty, among other things.

Sanctuary could not be reached for comment by press time.

— Jennifer Vineyard

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Here is Axl's attorney's response to the suit:

AXL ROSE's Attorney: 'Clerical Error' Is To Blame For All Royalties Being Sent To Singer - Aug. 26, 2005

Axl Rose's attorney has told the Los Angeles Times that "a clerical error" by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is to blame for all GUNS N' ROSES-related publishing royalties being sent to the singer, thereby bypassing the band's other partners, Slash and Duff McKagan.

Slash and Duff, otherwise known as Saul Hudson and Michael McKagan, are suing band leader Rose fraudulently naming himself sole administrator of the band's copyrights, jilting his former partners out of their shares of revenue that Hudson and McKagan's lawyer said totals about $500,000 a year.

The suit accuses Rose of "suffering an apparent attack of arrogance and ego" and says "he is no longer willing to acknowledge the contributions of his former partners and bandmates in having created some of rock's greatest hits."

But Howard Weitzman, Rose's lawyer, told the Los Angeles Times that the singer had asked to receive only his portion of royalties, and that the overpayment was due to a clerical error by the society. Weitzman said Rose had returned the extra funds to the organization.

Last year, Hudson and McKagan filed their first suit against Rose. This one alleged that the singer had wrongly claimed ownership of the group's assets after he quit GUNS N' ROSES in 1995. It also claimed that Rose had blocked Hudson and McKagan from licensing the band's recordings to movie producers, "costing the GUNS N' ROSES partnership millions of dollars to date." The case is pending.

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