Love, U nearing deal on contract lawsuit

Some believe singer will be released from Geffen pact

One of the music industry’s most closely watched breach of contract cases — the one between Courtney Love and Universal Music — is close to settlement and a deal could be announced as early as today, sources familiar with the talks said Thursday.

The case is slated to go to trial next week, although the sources said negotiations had concluded and the deal — barring any last-minute hitches — was just waiting to be signed by both sides.

The trial has been repeatedly delayed since June by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Fumiko Wasserman as mediation talks continued.

“I think a settlement is likely to be announced in the next few days. If it isn’t, it’s not going to happen at all,” said one source familiar with the discussions.

Officials for Universal Music declined comment. Love’s attorney, Barry Cappello, also declined comment.

Terms were not available, although industry insiders speculated Love will be released from her recording contract with Geffen Records, the unit of Universal named in the suit, which claims that Love owes it five records. Love claims she was cheated out of substantial royalties.

Love, the widow of Nirvana’s late leader Kurt Cobain, is also expected to receive a multimillion-dollar advance on a forthcoming compilation album of Nirvana songs that will be released, according to press reports.

In a separate bitter legal dispute in Seattle over the management of Nirvana’s back catalog, Love is suing the remaining members of Cobain’s grunge band over ownership of the group’s recordings and songs in a case worth millions of dollars in royalties.

In a recent radio interview, Love told shock jock Howard Stern that she had made up with the surviving bandmates, adding that “lots and lots and lots of money” was key to the new understanding.

After telling Stern that the numerous suits that had entangled her and band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic had been settled, Love announced: “We love each other. We’re getting along. We worked it all out.”

Love’s lawyer in that case, O. Yale Lewis, was unavailable, while the band members’ lawyers also declined comment.

Industry analysts have been closely monitoring Love’s lawsuit pitting the litigious pop diva against U, the world’s largest record group, as a pop artist-led movement challenging the terms of recording contracts gains momentum.

The case’s roots date back to December 1999, when Love decided to stop recording for Geffen. Last year, Geffen/Universal Music sued Love, seeking millions of dollars in damages for five undelivered albums. Love countersued, also in 2001.

U’s complaint and Love’s cross-complaint will be tried together if the case does go to trial.

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