A former keyboard player with the Backstreet Boys has filed a copyright suit claiming co-ownership of two songs on the group’s Jive album “Black & Blue,” Billboard Bulletin reports. The suit — filed Friday by Tommy Smith in U.S District Court for the Central District in Los Angeles –names group members Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean, Howard Dorough, and Kevin Richardson. Also named is Zomba Enterprises, the publishing arm of the Zomba Group, which has an undisclosed stake in the songs.
Smith claims he co-wrote the songs “The Answer to Our Life” and “Time” with Carter, Littrell, and another party. Smith says he was orally promised ownership stakes in the songs of 50% and 33%, respectively. Smith’s lawyer, Gerald Weiner, says damages “should be well over $1 million.” “Black & Blue” hit No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in November 2000 and has been certified for U.S. shipments of 8 million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America.
A lawyer for the Backstreet Boys says he is investigating the claim and “will be responding fairly.” A Zomba spokesperson had no comment.
Meanwhile, despite widespread speculation that the group may be splitting, Dorough says the Backstreet Boys are at work on a new studio album. “We’re in the early stages,” he told Billboard. “I’ve been out [in Los Angeles] this last month doing a lot of writing, as have Kevin [Richardson] and A.J. [McLean]. We’ll get together and probably work with Jermaine Dupri, we’re going to do some writing with Glen Ballard as well and just experiment.” The set could hit stores as early as this fall.