Multi-platinum artist Ashanti filed a federal lawsuit Jan. 27 over the unauthorized release of demos recorded more than eight years ago.

Multi-platinum artist Ashanti filed a federal lawsuit Jan. 27 over the unauthorized release of demos recorded more than eight years ago.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, names as defendants Genard Parker, Ellenwood, Ga.-based TEAM Entertainment, German distributor ZYX Music, Australian companies Big Records Australia and Rajon Distribution, Japanese label Farm Records, and U.K. companies Simply Vinyl Recordings and Unique Corp.

In the suit Ashanti claims she recorded demos for Parker and T.E.A.M. to shop for a major-label deal when she was 16 years old. They failed to land a deal; the artist claims she never intended or authorized them to release the demos as an album.

In a separate lawsuit, TEAM and Genard won a $630,000 judgment against Ashanti last July for failing to allow them to produce additional albums for her in breach of a production agreement she signed as a teenager.

The current complaint alleges that last year, various editions of a compilation album called "Can't Stop" appeared in the market with Ashanti's name in large print and recent photographs of her on the covers. On two of the tracks she only sings background vocals, while on another she is not performing at all.

Ashanti alleges invasion of privacy, unfair competition and trademark-related claims for releasing the demos without her permission and using her name and likeness on the albums and in advertising. She asks the court for an injunction, damages to compensate for lost profits and harm to her reputation, and punitive damages in excess of $1 million.

"It has long been a sad fact of the music industry that there are a great many people who try to make easy money off of the talent, hard work and success of young recording artists," says Ashanti's current lawyer, William Archer, head of the entertainment practice group at Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith in Los Angeles. "Recording artists are starting to fight back in different ways. That is what we intend to do here."

TEAM and Parker could not be reached for comment. Archer says the complaint has not yet been served on the defendants.

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