A federal judge in Chicago yesterday reaffirmed that Hawthorne Heights doesn't have to record albums exclusively for Victory Records.

In the ongoing legal battle between band members and Victory, Judge James Moran in March ruled that the band's recording contract did not require the band to record exclusively for the label.

In response to that ruling, Victory filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his decision. The label argued that the judge made an "error of apprehension," not correctly interpreting the plain language of the recording contract that required the band to record four "consecutive" albums. Victory argued that since the band already recorded two albums, its next two albums must be for Victory.

In its May 16 opinion, the court quoted the contract: "Artist grants to Company four (4) separate, consecutive and irrevocable options, each to extend the Term for further periods ("Option Periods") consecutively commencing upon the expiration of the preceding period and expiring twelve (12) months after the date Artist delivers to Company the last Album constituting Artist's Recording Commitment in that Option Period."

The court held that it is clear that consecutive options were granted, not the right to consecutive albums. During each option period the band must deliver one album to Victory, but the band may also record for others (including itself) during that option period, the court ruled.

The case continues on other claims, and Victory could appeal this decision at a later time.