Report: In Flames, Former Singer Headed For Legal Beef?
Vocalist Henke Forss, who sang for In Flames on the 1995 EP Subterranean, explained last week in a FB post that he recently reached out to management of the sharp-dressed Swedish melodeath group with an inquiry about royalties. Specifically, about the location of his payments of royalties. According to Forss’ post of the subsequent email exchange, a reply came September 22 via the band’s sexy attorney:
I am contacting you on behalf of the Group of In Flames. You contacted [In Flames manager] Andreas Werling in an email on September 18 regarding certain rights to the album Subterranean. It is not clear what rights you refer and I’d love to see you clarify your inquiries regarding the work and the access to these works that you think that you have.
That’s translated from Swedish, so maybe its lost some of its vibe. Or maybe foxy law guy meant to sound ambiguously mean. Either way, the lawyer’s tone isn’t reflected in Forss’s response:
I sang and wrote the lyrics to the album “Subterranean, which stands on the original release. If I remember correctly, it means that I am entitled to mechanical royalties and also replacement for sold phonograms and digital copies (including Spotify, iTunes, etc.) up to three (or five?) years back in time. [That’s] according to STIM, so it should be no problem to add me as the author of the songs I participate in.
STIM is an agency that collects licensing fees in Sweden, like ASCAP in the US. Anyway, the next part of the exchange is Forss listing the songs of which he claims authorship: “Stand Ablaze,” “Ever Dying,” “Subterranean,” and “Biosphere.” The band, via lawyer hunk, doesn’t appear to agree:
It is the band’s perception that you are not the author of some of the works in question. This means you are not registered as the author of such works at STIM. I also note that you have never been there.
Ah, so according to the body that tracks publishing rights, Forss isn’t listed as a contributor to those songs. Correcting that might require some pricey legal action from Forss. Next, the lawyer closes with a statement to the effect that any compensation for Forss would originate only from his agreement with the album’s record label, Regain. In other words, Fuck off. According to Forss, the next link in the chain:
I am very much author (texts) of the works I listed. It’s no secret. As I said, it is clearly printed on the press of the original album. But if the band claims otherwise, I wonder who [actually is] the author. Have I [misunderstood] in my years as a musician … that the author of the text is not at all the author of the text/work? If so, I owe someone a hefty sum of money.
Forss starts to sound incredulous there, right? Again the lawyer responded to confirm Forss’ concept of songwriting ownership — but only if a songwriter’s contributions are actually used. He doesn’t state that In Flames opted not to use material elements written by Forss. Instead, he executes another parry:
At your exit in the band also ceded any copyrights to the band as well as other former members made. The band’s attitude is that today you do not have any rights in relation to the works that you specify.
Our translation app garbles the final response shared by Forss, but it appears that he’ll pursue the matter and that he’s weirded out that In Flames is taking the hard line over a small amount of money. Then again, big bands may have to deal with claims of former members too often to stay good humored about it for long. For both parties, it’s the principle. We’ll see what happens. What’s your vibe on this, MetalSucks people?