Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty

94 F.3d 553 (9th Cir. 1996)

John Fogerty.

John Fogerty became famous as the lead singer for the southern rock band Credence Clearwater Revival. The band has a string of hits in the late 1960's and early 1970's, but by 1972, Fogerty wanted to leave CCR to pursue a solo career. To do this, however, he had to get out of his recording contract with Fantasy Records. Fantasy owner Saul Zaentz agreed on the condition that Fogerty sign over all the rights to CCR's music to him.

Fogerty agreed, but the two already had a long history of conflict. After leaving the Fantasy label, Fogerty recorded his album Centerfield, which included the songs "The Old Man Down the Road" and "Zanz Can't Dance." Saul Zaentz immediately filed suit against Fogerty over these two songs. He claimed the first song was a copy of Fogerty's own previous hit "Run Through the Jungle" and filed a defamation suit based on the lyrics of the latter.

Fogerty settled the defamation claim by changing the lyrics and title to Vanz Kant Danz, but fought the first claim and eventually won. Zaentz eventually had to pay Fogerty's attorney's fees. However, considering that Zaentz owns the worldwide distribution rights to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy thereby earning him a percentage of the receipts from Peter Jackson's film versions, the case did not affect him much financially.

After Zaentz sold Fantasy Records to merge with Concord Records, Fogerty immediately signed with the label again.