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Backstreet Boys Sue For $75 Million, Release From Contract

The Backstreet Boys have filed suit against the Zomba Recording Corporation, the parent company of their record label, Jive, asking for $75 million and release from their 1994 recording contract.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, cites breach of contract, intentional interference with contract, trademark infringement and unfair competition as the basis of the complaint. Plaintiffs Backstreet Boys Inc. and Backstreet Boys Productions Inc. — two corporations created to oversee business opportunities for Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean — are asking for at least $75 million and all the money Zomba obtained as a result of its allegedly unfair behavior.

In November 1999, following the release of Millennium, the group revised its 1994 contract, agreeing to deliver two additional albums to Zomba by predetermined dates in exchange for advance payments of future royalties. Black & Blue was released the following year (see ), and the Boys would receive $5 million if the second of the two promised albums was rendered by April 30, 2002.

But things got screwy after Black & Blue, the suit alleges. As the group prepared its follow-up, the Boys received no support from their label in terms of song selection or choice of producers, they insist, adding that the group's artistic suggestions were outright refused.

Instead, the group claims Jive was vested in Nick Carter's solo album, Now or Never, which was released October 29 (see ). Since Carter was working on his album, he was "unable and unwilling" to participate in the recording and subsequent delivery of the Backstreet Boys' fourth album by the deadline, costing the Backstreet Boys $5 million.

"We are committed to the Backstreet Boys, " the group collectively said in a statement, "and we will protect our group from anybody or anything that tries to break us apart. We are disappointed that our longtime label Jive Records has attempted to irresponsibly exploit our group. The five of us are writing for our new CD and setting concert dates for our upcoming worldwide summer tour."

The suit also claims Zomba is using the Backstreet Boys' trademark without permission to promote Carter's Now or Never. Zomba has the right to use the BSB trademark only as it pertains to promoting Backstreet Boys releases.

The suit says that Zomba posted an ad for Now or Never on the main page of that directed visitors to and that the label sent e-mails to thousands of subscribers to the Backstreet Boys mailing list. Together these infringements "have the effect of misleading visitors to the site into believing that the Now or Never album is being endorsed or sponsored by BBI and BPI, and that it embodies the same songwriting and production qualities that fans of the band have come to associate with Backstreet Boys albums."

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