NEW YORK – Some of rock 'n' roll's biggest names have teamed up to sue the owner of a Web site that specializes in streaming rare concert recordings.
Wolfgang's Vault offers thousands of recordings of rare audio and video music performances collected over 30 years by Bill Graham, a famous concert promoter who died in 1991.
On Monday, major rock names including Grateful Dead Productions, Carlos Santana and members of Led Zeppelin and The Doors, sued the current owner, claiming it was illegally offering recordings to stimulate sales of other products.
Wolfgang's Vault representatives were not immediately available for comment.
The site, (http://www.wolfgangsvault.com), also sells T-shirts, pictures and memorabilia such as vintage concert posters and tickets.
The recordings were made at concert performances by a wide array of artists from Bob Marley to Bob Dylan. The site's collection has been described by some industry watchers as one of the most important groupings of rock memorabilia and recordings ever assembled in one business.
The suit was filed at the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California against William Sagan, who bought the assets of Graham for $5 million from Clear Channel Entertainment more than three years ago.
"Sagan simply doesn't have the legal rights to exploit and profit from the extraordinary success of these musicians," Jeff Reeves, who represents the artists, said in a statement.
Wolfgang's Vault derives from Graham's given name of Wolfgang Grajonca. Over the course of his career as a promoter he is credited within the music industry for helping create the modern concert promotion business.
Live music performances, both in audio and video formats, are a fast-growing area online for companies including Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) AOL unit and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) online unit MSN. Such companies say advertisers are keen for original content which works well in the online video format.