You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Wolfgang’s Vault Hit With Class Action Copyright Suit

When entrepreneur William Sagan opened up “Wolfgang’s Vault” in 2006, and began streaming a massive archive of concert recordings online, he also opened up knotty legal dispute.

Sagan has been sued a half dozen times over the years, including by the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin, for alleged copyright infringement. The latest to get in on the action is Greg Kihn, of the power pop act the Greg Kihn Band, known for early ’80s hits “Jeopardy” and “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em).”

In a suit filed in San Francisco federal court on Sept. 14, Kihn alleges that Wolfgang’s Vault is selling access to more than a dozen live concert recordings from 1976 through 1986, as well as Kihn’s appearances on the “King Biscuit Flower Hour” radio show.

Sagan is also currently fighting a federal suit in New York against six groups of music publishers. Kihn’s suit is filed as a class action, and seeks to represent the artists whose recordings appear on the site.

In 2002, Sagan acquired the archive of San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham, said to be one of the largest private collections of concert recordings. Sagan supplemented his holdings by acquiring a dozen other collections, including the King Biscuit radio show. Wolfgang’s Vault sells access to the recordings for $39.99 per year.

In the dispute with the music publishers, Sagan’s attorneys have alleged that he has paid out royalties under compulsory licenses, and that the plaintiffs failed to object to that arrangement in a timely fashion. The publishers’ attorneys have countered that the performances are ineligible for compulsory licenses because they were originally made without the artists’ permission and because Wolfgang’s Vault failed to give advance notice as the law requires. Both sides are seeking summary judgment in their favor.

Sagan’s attorney, Michael Elkin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit. Neville Johnson, of Johnson & Johnson LLP, and Daniel Warshaw, of Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP, are representing the plaintiffs.

More Music

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    It'll Take a 'Village' to Salute the Kinks at Tribute Show Saturday

    The Kinks’ classic 1968 album “The Village Green Preservation Society” has always needed some fervent champions to keep its reputation alive, or even to keep it in print, in the 50 years since it first came out and proved to be a massive flop. You could give a name to the fervent cult that’s made [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Turns Himself in to Chicago Police

    R. Kelly, who was indicted Friday afternoon on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, turned himself in to a Chicago police station on Friday night. He is set to appear for a bond hearing on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/7k9VvbTPjg — Megan Crepeau (@crepeau) February 23, 2019 The incidents — in which three of [...]

  • Gary Clark Jr This Land

    Album Review: Gary Clark Jr.'s 'This Land'

    Not that many years ago, people were talking about Gary Clark Jr. in terms of his ability to revive a fairly commercially moribund genre: the blues. But his third full-length studio album, “This Land,” makes good on his potential to make a record that fits quite nicely within the larger realm of mainstream rock ‘n’ [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Is ‘Going Down Hard,’ Criminal-Defense Attorney Predicts

    When R. Kelly was arrested on child-pornography charges in 2002, after a videotape emerged that purported to show him having sex with an underage girl, he managed to have the case dismissed through a combination of skillful lawyering, repeated delays (the verdict did not come down for six years), and the fact that the girl [...]

  • Carrie Underwood House

    Carrie Underwood Lists Former Mansion Outside Nashville (EXCLUSIVE)

    Pop country music queen Carrie Underwood has listed her lavishly appointed mansion in a guard-gated golf course development in the affluent suburban community of Brentwood, Tenn., about 20 miles south of downtown Nashville, for $1.45 million. The seven-time Grammy winning fourth season “American Idol” winner isn’t seeking much profit on the property she bought for [...]

  • Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists

    Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists Are Owed by PledgeMusic

    For eight years, PledgeMusic was a success story: A direct-to-fan platform where artists worked directly with their audiences to fund their albums, tours and all stripes of merchandise, with fans able to purchase everything from custom guitar picks to private concerts. Yet last June, Variety broke the news that the company is struggling to pay [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content