The other shoe finally dropped and Alternative Tentacles
was finally served with a subpoena from the Fraternal Order of Police of
Philadelphia last week. When a courier finally came to the San Francisco
headquarters of the label, he was apologetic, telling president of the label,
Greg Werckman, how sorry he was to be the bearer of such bad tidings. "I'm a
big fan of the label and thinks this really stinks," the messenger of bad
tidings told Werckman, before reaching for his wallet. "And I'd like to
contribute a little something for you legal defense fund."
hasn't set up a fund to finance it's defense of the latest suit yet. (That was
necessary back in 1986 when Biafra and others were arrested on obscenity
charges, stemming from a reproduction of an H.R. Giger poster "Landscape#20"
that was included with the 1995 release of the Dead Kennedy's
Frankenchrist.The charges of "distribution of harmful matters to minors
"made by California authorities, which could have led to a jail term, were
dropped when that case ended in a mistrial.)
The most recent case involves
the Alternative Tentacle band the Crucifucks. The band made use of a poster put
out by the Philadelphia police in the early '80s depicting a dead police
officer. The Michigan band appropriated the image, fucked with it and used the
result as the back cover art or their album released on AT in 1992. As you
probably don't recall (though we told you about it in an earlier report), the
CD came to the attention of the "model" for the poster, a Sergeant John Whelan,
and he along with the FOP filed suit against Biafra, the label, the Crucifucks
and Borders books for: 1) Appropriation of likeness for commercial purposes; 2)
Publicity placing person in false light; 3) Civil conspiracy (conspiring to
misappropriate and place the FOP in a false light); 4) Defamation; and 5)
Common law copyright infringement.
Of note: the Fraternal Order of Police
never bothered to apply for a copyright for the poster, which may be the loop
hole that Biafra can leap through. The FOP and Whelan are asking for a sum in
excess of $50,000.