Smashing Pumpkins File Lawsuit


Billy Corgan by Scott Fleishman
Smashing Pumpkins have filed a lawsuit this week against Virgin Records, their former record label, for the unauthorized exploitation of the band's musical works and image as well as for devaluing the market value of its music and deceiving its fans.

"We fought hard for the right to be in control of how our music is used, to avoid situations like this kind of crass commercialism and exploitation. Labels like EMI are no longer running the show, and we won't be bullied by those in the 'old' music business who consider every artist to be easily expendable. Those days are over," says lead Pumpkin Billy Corgan.

Filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in Los Angeles, the suit states that Virgin Records - without the band's knowledge or permission - endorsed and sponsored a worldwide promotional marketing campaign by and Pepsi for both companies to promote and sell Amazon and Pepsi products for financial profit. The suit contends that the Pumpkins have vigilantly overseen their music and likeness, which "convey a message of honesty, artistic integrity and alternative non-main stream culture" and that Virgin Records has "irreparably harmed the group, their reputation and goodwill with their fans."

The Pumpkins would never have granted such authority to Virgin, or any other entity, because they govern the use of its name, likeness, and musical works in conjunction with any commercial affiliation or sponsorship. Therefore, the suit indicates, "Virgin has deceived and confused the public into believing that Plaintiff is affiliated with the promotion and/or that Plaintiff itself is participating in the promotion."

The Pumpkins are demanding, as the suit states, "a full and complete accounting of all funds received by Virgin pursuant to the Pepsi promotion” and the band is “entitled to an award of punitive damages against Virgin in an amount according to proof."

Billy Corgan says, "It's a frustrating situation honestly, to be treated so poorly by a label where we had so much success. Recently, they have ignored our pleas to give our fans special editions of our old albums, telling us they weren't interested. So there is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy involved with them turning around and using us like this."

"It's another desperate attempt,” says drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, "by an anachronistic business to generate revenue however they can, legal or illegal. They have neither the wisdom to accept their irrelevance, nor the intelligence to do something about it. Just goes to show that they will do about anything for money. Seems they have long forgotten how to actually 'work' for a dollar."

[Published on: 3/30/08]

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TimCorcoran starstarstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 10:03AM
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we won't be bullied by those in the 'old' music business who consider every artist to be easily expendable. Those days are over," says lead Pumpkin Billy Corgan.

Right on Billy! =)

Umphreek87 Sun 3/30/2008 10:05AM
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long live the pumpkins! Corgan seems like a down to earth guy

mrknowitall starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 11:04AM
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Give em' hell Billy!

Artistic integrity!

badass_420 starstarstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 11:20AM
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naturefreak22 Sun 3/30/2008 11:21AM
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I think Billy Corgan is an asshole but he has a point.

keithrichardsforpres Sun 3/30/2008 12:19PM
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Billy lost all artistic integrity when he released multiple versions of his last album, giving an exclusive track to Walmart, Best Buy and and Target. Ya , he's really against "commercialization". He's just as money grubbing as these labels, and corporations, I bet he just didn't get paid enough and that's why he's whining. Love the Pumpkins music, but let's call a spade a spade here.

happydestiny Sun 3/30/2008 12:23PM
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billy corgan looks like powder.

Mellon Collie and the infinate sadness is a truely great album that still gets some time in my rotation. stick it to em billy

old man Sun 3/30/2008 12:35PM
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old man

i resent his use of the word "old".

danknugget Sun 3/30/2008 12:42PM
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smashing pumpkins = non-mainstream culture? ha!

UnbrokenChain7 star Sun 3/30/2008 01:42PM
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In my opinion, this is pretty ridiculous. Maybe I am just not understanding it correctly. To me, Corgan sounds like a hypocrite. They are honestly seeking punitive damages? What about all of those MTV Videos and MTV video award performances back in the day? Is that considered non mainstream? I think it's a bogus attempt to make some cash, but what the hell do I know.

Gary starstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 01:54PM
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Sad story, interesting to see even the The Smashing Pumpkins - at such a high level in their career still have to deal with record label control issues.


uhoh Sun 3/30/2008 02:35PM
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Cola21 starstarstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 06:33PM
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This is laughable. The Pumpkins are the essence of my childhood - I love the music. Now, that being said, let's remember how they distributed their most recent album: Best Buy and Target sold their cds with bonus tracks - bonus tracks that could only be purchased at the specific major store. None of them were made available on iTunes. Now, all it takes is one person to put the tracks on LimeWire and it's free. And I fully understand that one or two bonus tracks isn't a big deal in terms of quantity of tunes. But the concept of putting special tracks on albums sold exclusively in big, chain stores is as mainstream, pro-popculture as it gets. I'm not judging Billy because I don't know him. But come on. That's a shitload of corporate promotion right there. Let's be honest. Maybe he didn't consent the other promotions, but don't go postering for the counterculture.

OaksterDan Sun 3/30/2008 08:36PM
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The old record industry needs to die and go away. See Tom Petty documentary for a first hand look how dirty this industry was and still is. Now Apple is talking about doing away with .99 songs and going to a subscription base package ($12.99 month) like internet service. The music executives in LA & NY are not done screwing music lovers and bands alike. Greed the great american pastime.

kirkbrew Mon 3/31/2008 07:24AM
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What "irreparably harmed the group, their reputation and goodwill with their fans" was the last album.

Gary starstarstar Mon 3/31/2008 07:40AM
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Cola, I see your point - but the circumstances are quite different. In this case, the product being sold wasn't even Smashing Pumpkins and it was done without their permission.

I really don't care so much - the entire industry neats to be revamped. At least we have the internet!


torn&treyed Mon 3/31/2008 08:36AM
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the entire industry is being revamped by an invention called the internet....... seems a little ridiculous to get mad at a company like pepsi for advertising when you have to go play the pepsi center... yknow....

delaneyira starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/31/2008 10:23AM
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This is a HUGE step in the right direction. Fuck the corporate new world order pigs who want to squeez all the soul out of music untill all that is left are 3:30s commercials for a peticular trend of clothing that is tied financially to the music corporation. The pumpkins should be commended for throwing down the gauntlet and explaining to these people that theyre power is waning. People are using technology to publish themselves therefore freeing themselves from the parasitic scumbag fat pig corporate exectutives who are only interested in moving product as opposed to art. Hopefully these pigs will have to start laying off the talentless peices of crap that they built up like britney spears, almost all popular rappers, and the rest of the pathetic singers who dont even know what key they are supposed to be screaming in. I cant wait till these useless scrub peieces of shit start loosing thier homes because they cant find a record company profitable to hire them. And that will be a good thing. These pop stars dont deserve to live in mansions, they should be serving soda at a widespread panic concert. Panic has talent, not 50 cent!! He should go back to getting shot in the face. Anyone who is against corporate pop music that sucks hairy buttholes should support the pumpkins even though they arent all that good either. At least they are standing up for themselves and using that to advocate for progress... Anyone interested in this stuff should look at what warner brothers tried to do to frank zappa. He told them to fuck off then went on to make over 80 albums and kept all the money he deserved and payed his band well... Joshl92482, Pepsi payed to have its name smeared on that building, pepsi did not pay for smashing pumpkins to write those songs. The smashing pumpkins are not rediculous. Dont ever be on the side of the corporations, they would gladly kill your family, grind up your flesh and put you in beef patties to turn a profit. BTW, pepsi puts aspartame in thier soda, aspartame killed 100% of the labrats tested on, it causes brain damage and weight problems. Fuck Multinational corporations.

nmihalik Mon 3/31/2008 12:18PM
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I wouldn't say Billy and the Pumpkins are money-grubbers here. If the facts are as alleged then they have a good claim and should pursue it to protect the use of their music and likeness, although Billy on his high horse is a bit ridiculous. The lawsuit is your basic claim for trademark infringment under sections 43(a) and 43(c) of the Lanham Act. They are claiming Virgin used their trademarks, which is their sounds, songs and likeness to promote products without their permission. Thus, consumers were deceived into believing that the Pumpkins somehow approved of or endorsed those products (called passing-off). Nothing particularly unique here, just your run of the mill trademark infringement claim. Yes, I am a lawyer...

Smittea star Mon 3/31/2008 12:30PM
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I filed a lawsuit to try and get Billy Corgan to stop singing. His voice makes Neil young sound angelic.

BRabbit starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/31/2008 02:04PM
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really in all honesty who cares. I mean the pumpkins haven't been a band in a while and they are fighting the system HA. fuck this article there is nothing that we can do, or will ever do to stop the corporations from running this country. P.S any band would be a fool not to sign up to sell there music to walmart its the largest record store in america, sad but true. just a reminder every show you go to supports major corporation's so get over it.

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/31/2008 05:24PM
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SmashySmashy Mon 3/31/2008 08:26PM
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Hey NoodooVoodoo.. just fyi, I run carcinogen assays for my lab now and then. You have to use ungodly concentrations to get fast results because it is not feasible to administer Aspartame slowly over many years to rats. Any run of the mill community college level microbiology course exposes bacteria to artificial sweeteners just to show how mutagenic they are, and trust me they are. They are actually pretty evil chemicals considering a lot of uninformed people on these fad diets intake ridiculous amounts of this shit to stay off sugar. Bottom line, over a long time it DEFINITELY increases your risk of cancer. Fact. Stay away from it. Listen I understand we have to do some sketchy things to feed people because this planet is so overpopulated, but don't buy food products with horribly unnatural chemicals added.

HoodooVoodoo Tue 4/1/2008 11:59AM
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Smashy - I actually stay away from aspartame for that very reason (plus it tastes awful). I do have a degree in Biology as well. We never did any experiments with aspartame in my micro lab, but what you say is very interesting. Basically what I'm saying is A) it's not just Pepsi that uses aspartame. B) You will not immediately die, nor are you guaranteed to get cancer if you drink diet soda or if you chew sugarless gum or if you use Sweet & Low. C) I was just making a reference to that old Suicidal Tendencies song. D) Billy Corgan is a hippocrate (albeit I do like very much like Siamese Dream, Gish, and to some extent Mellencollie).

jshortultimate Tue 4/1/2008 05:32PM
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There's a funny-ish video of Billy on Youtube talking about doing acid and listening to Dark Star. Seriously. :)

dianaview Tue 4/1/2008 05:54PM
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derrrrr -- the Ford add kills me every time i see it (w/ the tune "that's the way my love is" playing). i would believe this argument if the pumpkins didn't already sell out to Ford. (btw, the pumpkins are actually one of my top 10 favorite groups of all time. billy corgan was the voice of my adolescence.)

ghilliesblunt Wed 4/2/2008 10:34AM
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apple and itunes want a nickel for everytime you hum a song in your head from their library

Smittea Wed 4/2/2008 12:54PM
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...a dime if you belch it.

sbruce44 starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/4/2008 02:33PM
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that was some nice verbal delanyiarrhea.