They Fought The Law

They Fought The Law

by Stan Soocher

Schirmer Books

Sure, we all know the pitfalls of the music industry — the impossible contracts, the missing money, the bands chewed up and spit out and ground down and shoveled under. The keyword in “music industry” is not “music,” it’s “industry,” and like in any business, for someone to make a buck, someone else has to not make it.

Author Stan Soocher is an entertainment attorney by trade, and journalist on the field on the side. His style is direct and easy to read, though the sordid details will make you reconsider your dreams of that triple-pooled house in Beverly Hills. The sad news is that the people making the real money in music are not the musicians, and it seems that those that do manage to escape with some money do so usually only after a protracted legal battle.

They Fought The Law makes for some great reading, and should be required for anyone whose eyes are dancing at the sight of the dotted line. Covered in gory detail are landmark cases like the 2 Live Crew, Elvis Presley/Col. Tom Parker, the Beatles vs. Capitol Records and my favorite, Judas Priest. The machinations of the music industry and the technicalities of the laws governing intellectual property such as music are complex but Soocher does a good job of explaining how they work and what their intent is. If there’s anything to be learned from this book, it’s “get a lawyer.” Sure, it’ll cost plenty, but it will cost far more later.

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