White Stripes Win Royalties Lawsuit

Jurors find that recording engineer didn't shape Detroit rockers' sound.

Jim Diamond, who owns the studio where the first two White Stripes LPs were recorded, did not have a hand in crafting the minimalist rock duo's signature style and therefore isn't owed any royalties gleaned through the sale of the band's music, a panel of eight jurors ruled Thursday inside Detroit's federal court.

Deliberations lasted 20 minutes, according to the Detroit Free Press, and the verdict returned rebuffed Diamond's claims that he was instrumental in shaping the White Stripes' sound and was entitled to part ownership of copyrights for the group's first two offerings. Diamond, who owns and operates Ghetto Recorders studio, co-produced and engineered the Stripes' 1999 self-titled debut and receives a mixing credit on 2000's De Stijl.

Following the verdict, Stripes frontman Jack White told The Detroit News that he was satisfied with the jury's finding. "You never know what's going to happen in a trial," he said outside the courthouse.

Diamond sued the band back in April, claiming ownership of the mechanical rights to the sound recordings of The White Stripes and De Stijl. The rights to the White Stripes' actual songs were not at issue in the case, reports the News. The trial commenced Monday.

During closing arguments Thursday morning, the band's lawyers recognized Diamond's technical skills as an engineer, but likened his role with the White Stripes to that of a carpenter following a blueprint. The duo had paid Diamond $35 per hour for studio time at Ghetto Recorders.

One of the Stripes' attorneys, Bert Deixler, explained to the jurors that Diamond's work in the studio was limited to microphone placement, reverberation effects, and mixing, and that "none of that constitutes originating an original work or causing it to come into being." Diamond sought back royalties in the suit, and had the jury ruled in his favor, the judgment would have been a significant one.

Diamond's lawyers countered that the liner notes for the Stripes' inaugural LP credited their client as a co-producer, which, according to attorney Stephen Wasinger, means "Mr. Diamond at that time, in that place, was equally [as] talented."

"How do you explain to the average juror what was going on in the underground Detroit music scene in 1999 — especially in the context of a complicated copyright case?," asked Anthony Deluca, another of Diamond's lawyers, while reflecting on the verdict later on. "Jim Diamond gave those bands life. It's a tragedy for Detroit, and for underground music, that the White Stripes won't acknowledge Jim Diamond's contributions to the evolution of the band."