30 Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto has responded to Virgin Records’ $30 million lawsuit for alleged breach of contract and damages, describing the legal action as “insane” but expressing his hope for “a resolution to this in as civil and kind a way as possible.”
Virgin is suing the band for alleged breach of contract and damages “in excess of $30,000,000”, according to paperwork filed Friday (Aug. 15) in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Virgin accuses Jared and Shannon Leto of not delivering three of the five albums under the band’s contract, which it entered into in 1999 with Immortal Records. Virgin took over the contract in 2004, according to the suit, which adds that the Letos “repudiated” the 1999 contract “and claimed that they were excused from such performance from and after July 4, 2008, pursuant to California Labor Code Sec. 2855(a).”
The law governs the ability of entertainers to terminate their contracts after seven years.
In a posting at the band’s official forum, Jared Leto wrote that the band is still together and recording the follow-up to “A Beautiful Lie” in Los Angeles.
He added: “So, as you may have heard we are being sued by our former record company for the ridiculously oversized, totally unrealistic and pretty silly (but slightly clever) sum of $30,000,000. Insane? Yea that’s what we said too.”
Leto makes various claims in his posting, stating that the band were unhappy that they had sold two million albums yet were “still $1.4 million in debt” and that the “next record we make will be used to pay off that old supposed debt.”
However, it is understood that EMI will cite its funding of 30 Seconds To Mars’ tours and videos, directed by Leto, as evidence of a major financial contribution to the band’s career.
Explaining the band’s withdrawal from the contract, Jared Leto wrote: “We had been signed to our record contract for nine years. Basically, under California law, where we live and signed our deal, one cannot be bound to a contract for more than seven years. This is widely known by all the record companies and has been for years. In fact, so aware of it are they that they desperately try to make deals outside of California whenever possible. It is a law that protects people from lengthy, unfair, career-spanning contracts. This law also gave us the legal right to explore other possible opportunities.
“Yes we have been sued by EMI. But NOT for failing to deliver music or for ‘quitting.’ We have been sued by the corporation quite simply because roughly 45 days ago we exercised our legal right to terminate our old, out of date contract, which, according to the law is null and void. We terminated for a number of reasons, which we won’t go into here (we’d rather not air any dirty laundry) but basically our representatives could not get EMI to agree to make a fair and reasonable deal.”
An EMI spokeswoman said in statement, “EMI’s relationship with 30STM has been extremely rewarding and successful for both the band and the company. The hard work of EMI’s global team and of the band has resulted in sales of three million albums and singles, multiple awards and a growing, global fan base.
“However, we have been forced to take procedural, legal steps in order to protect EMI’s investment and rights during contract renegotiations initiated by the band and management. We hope to resolve these matters amicably and put them behind us so we can continue working in partnership with the band to take them to even greater levels of success.”
In his posting, Leto added that the band was unhappy that most of the employees it worked with at Virgin and EMI had left the company as a result of the major’s restructuring under chairman Guy Hands. “It is hardly the same company we have known,” he wrote.
EMI did not respond to specific claims by Leto that the major intended to place advertisements on its official Web site and that it wanted ownership of the band’s master recordings in perpetuity.