American Youth Symphony (AYS), producers of "America's Hot Musician", filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit today in DC Superior Court against Canadian all-female metal band KITTIE for a variety of claims, including tortious interference, fraud and libel.
The complaint — which can be read at this location — stems from claims in an ongoing lawsuit involving AYS and Oprah Winfrey's former Oxygen network, which revealed that Oxygen received notice of a cease-and-desist letter on May 14, 2007 from a law firm on behalf of KITTIE threatening immediate legal action if the program aired on the network. This allegedly took place one week before AYS received a cease-and-desist letter from KITTIE on May 21, 2007, which was subsequently posted on the Internet by the show's producers.
The complaint alleges that KITTIE threatened Oxygen, now owned by NBC and which did not air the program, because KITTIE's video clips and music were allegedly being used in the show's theme song without their permission. Portions of KITTIE's music video "What I Alawys Wanted" were incorporated into the theme to feature former KITTIE bassist Talena Atfield, a judge on the show, with whom KITTIE had a falling out a few years ago.
AYS, a non-profit organization which promotes instrumental music within the MTV/Hip Hop Generation, claims not only that it received written permission and the master tapes from the legal owners, Sheridan Square Entertainment, but that KITTIE's motives were aimed at inflicting harm on the organization and Atfield.
The complaint alleges that KITTIE had to have known that their music tracks were not being used in the theme and that they did not own the video rights. AYS also claims that it informed KITTIE of this in May 2007 and they still offered no retraction and continued to make libelous statements in the press as late as August 2007.
"America's Hot Musician" has aired as a weekly webcast/podcast on its web site and on iTunes and plans to air the finals on television this spring.
National Symphony violinist Marissa Regni and Duke Ellington Orchestra alum Gregory Charles Royal fill out the judging panel.
Watch "America's Hot Musician" episode #1 below.