Songwriters - Tell BMI to Stop Lying and Trying to Destroy Alex Baker

Songwriters - Tell BMI to Stop Lying and Trying to Destroy Alex Baker

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Alexander Baker started this petition to BROADCAST MUSIC INC. and

Broadcast Music Inc., ("BMI") is threatening to stop paying royalties to songwriter Alex Baker, while continuing to pay Baker's co-writer Clair Marlo. This appears to be in direct violation of BMI's royalty-withhold policy, which requires it to withhold royalties from both sides in such a dispute. In support of their threats, which if carried out will render Baker homeless and unable to pay child support, BMI falsely claims to have been unaware of a 2016 Court Order equalizing royalties between Baker and Marlo. BMI is falsely characterizing the terms of the 2016 Court Order, using language that could only have been supplied to them by Marlo's attorney, Joe Yanny, who is the same Joe Yanny that openly advocates for the Mongols Nation criminal extortion and RICO racketeering gang.

Please tell BMI to stop lying and trying to destroy Alex Baker. The details of the situation follow.

 

Broadcast Music Inc., ("BMI") is a performing rights organization that pays royalty money to songwriters for the use of their music on tv shows and other media. BMI collects money in exchange for granting licenses to the media outlets for use of the affiliated songwriters' works. That money is paid to the songwriters in quarterly royalty distributions.

Sometimes, disputes arise between songwriters over who should or should not be paid for a particular song, or over what is the correct "split" (percentage) that should be paid to each co-writer. When such a dispute arises, BMI has a standing "dispute hold" policy, under which BMI will withhold all the royalties payable on a given musical work, until the dispute is settled. BMI policy requires the disputing parties to provide a copy of the legal complaint in the court case where the dispute is proceeding.

Since June of 2014, Alex Baker and his (now ex) wife Clair Marlo, both BMI songwriters, have been embroiled in a high-conflict divorce proceeding in Los Angeles Superior Court. In July 2016, Baker and Marlo stipulated and the Family Court ordered that all royalty money payable on songs written during their 20-year marriage be split equally. This is consistent with California community property law, which has long held that royalty money is community property. See e.g. In Re Marriage of Worth (1987).

In July 2016, as soon as the Family Court ordered  Baker and Marlo to equalize royalties, they sent a jointly-signed Letter of Direction to BMI, informing BMI of the Order, and instructing BMI to equalize royalties. The Letter of Direction began "Pursuant to July 7, 2016 orders of the court...", and a copy of the Court order was attached to the Letter of Direction.

By September 2016, BMI had fully complied with the Court Order and Letter of Direction. Since September 2016 and ever thereafter, BMI has divided the Marital Royalty Stream equally between Baker and Marlo.    

In April 2017, Baker formed an LLC company for the purpose of creating an animated show called "Adam Bravery". Baker  assigned his BMI royalty stream to pay into the LLC, and Baker was hired as an employee of the company. The routine royalty assignment was completed on a standard, one page Royalty Assignment form provided by BMI. A year later, Baker took on 2 partners to help bring "Adam Bravery" to fruition. A new LLC was established, and all assets of the first LLC were assigned to the new LLC, including the royalty stream. Again, the assignment of royalties was completed on the same standard Royalty Assignment form provided by BMI. All of these financials were immediately disclosed to Marlo, as required in divorce. Marlo did not object.

Now, it's Summer of 2019. Suddenly Baker was contacted by BMI's in house attorney Erika Stallings. Ms. Stallings states that BMI has only recently become aware of the July 2016 Court Order. This is despite the fact that BMI not only was aware of the Court Order, BMI acted on the Court order by equalizing the royalties. Ms. Stallings stated that her understanding of the Court Order was that Baker was not allowed to assign his royalties. Ms. Stallings asked if Baker had an attorney (he doesn't, he can't afford one), and what his position was on this "dispute".

The July 2016 royalty equalizing agreement was drafted by Marlo's old attorney, one Jacqueline Y. Blade. The agreement states clearly that royalties are to be split equally, but also contains some slick legalese that, according to Joe Yanny, makes the agreement temporary. Even so, how this would preclude Baker from assigning his royalties is unknown to Baker, because BMI could reallocate the royalties again, now, just as easily as it already did before, in July 2016. Baker replied to BMI stating that the Order did not disallow him from assigning his own royalties.

As soon as Alex discovered that the agreement was temporary, (at least according to Joe Yanny) he asked to make the agreement permanent. Alas, Marlo is not agreeable because [ insert statement from Marlo's attorneys ].

Now, here's the diabolical part: BMI now threatens to impose a dispute hold on royalties. Not ALL the royalties, mind you, but only Baker's royalties. BMI threatens to stop paying Baker's royalties until further order of the Court, but will continue paying Marlo's royalties. How is this fair?

Even if there was a legitimate dispute as to whether or not Baker was allowed to assign his own royalty stream to pay into an LLC, the dispute would not involve Marlo. Rather, the dispute would be between Baker as an individual and the LLC. Marlo is receiving her share of the Marital Royalty Stream just fine, and nobody alleges otherwise.


What is going on here? Why is Marlo allowed to claim a "dispute" against Baker's royalties, while exempting her own royalties from the dispute?

One day in August 2019, Baker made a phone call to Erika Stallings to find out what was going on. Ms. Stallings denied any prior knowledge of the July 2016 Court Order, and informed Baker that Richard Garza, the former

BMI attorney who had overseen the 2016 royalty reallocation, was no longer at BMI, and did not know how he could be reached.

In the phone call, Ms. Stallings said that it was BMI's policy to remain "above the fray" in these kinds of disputes. Baker asked Ms. Stallings how cutting off his royalties while continuing to pay Marlo's royalties was "above the fray", and Ms. Stallings would not answer. Baker asked if BMI had received any sort of legal complaint filed by Marlo regarding the supposed impropriety of assigning royalties to an LLC. Ms. Stallings indicated only that she had been informed by Marlo's attorney, Joe Yanny.


It is worth noting a little about Joe Yanny. Attorney Joe Yanny is the lead criminal defense attorney for the Mongols Nation, a convicted RICO racketeering enterprise involved in murder, extortion, money laundering and dealing crystal meth. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongols_Motorcycle_Club#cite_note-WSJ-12

In 2019 a jury convicted Mongols Nation of RICO Racketeering. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department's prosecutors sought to strip Mongols Nation of their trademark on their logo, so that the "club" would be effectively abolished. The jury agreed, but Joe Yanny then somehow persuaded the federal judge to nullify the jury verdict, and his Mongols Nation is allowed to retain their trademark logo. See https://www.apnews.com/d26a8da642014a6c9888f070d015fee5

Joe Yanny is not only the attorney for Mongols Nation, he a member. Joe Yanny has publicly described how he came to owe a debt of gratitude to the Mongols, who rescued Yanny one night after his motorcycle had broken down on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. In addition to legal representation, Yanny has provided eyewitness testimony in prior criminal trials involving Mongol members.


Why is BMI siding with Marlo instead of remaining neutral? Is Joe Yanny exerting improper influence over Erika Stallings and BMI?


Joe Yanny was contacted, but declined to comment.

BMI and Erika Stallings were invited to comment, and also declined.

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