Local Band Tests Seven Year Rule in Dispute with Record Label

A coming trial between Huntington Beach’s Avenged Sevenfold and Warner Bros. Records may dissuade or embolden hot artists looking to escape their contracts.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The dispute dates back to 2015, when the act notified its label that it was terminating the contract it signed in 2004, citing the “seven-year rule,” which bars personal service contracts lasting longer than seven years. The law has its roots in a pro-labor statute put on the books after the Civil War to prevent long-term contracts from becoming the means for involuntary servitude. The modern version of the rule was famously tested in entertainment in 1944, when Olivia de Havilland used the law to break her contract with Warner Bros after the studio repeatedly suspended her for turning down roles. An appeals court decision helped bring an end to Hollywood’s old studio system.”

Artists including Olivia Newton John, Courtney Love and bands like Thirty Seconds to Mars have invoked the seven-year rule in disputes with their labels, and some went to court, but many of those matters settled before they reached trial.

“We’ve realized this battle is bigger than just us,” says Avenged Sevenfold singer Matt Sanders (known professionally as M. Shadow). “We’re fighting so that all musical artists have the same rights everyone else has. It’s not like we wanted to be here, but we are down for the fight.”

You can’t even bang your head these days without smacking right into a business dispute. And when they affect YOUR business, you need a legal rockstar like Dean Sperling in there making sure YOUR matter gets resolved with YOUR best interests in mind.

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