For the past 27 years, Harry Shearer has been part of the voice cast of The Simpsons, where he’s played Ned Flanders, Montgomery Burns, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, and 19 other characters. But before he landed that gig, he played bassist Derek Smalls in the beloved 1984 rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. He also co-wrote the movie and the music on its soundtrack and served as one of its musicians. Along with Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner, and Michael McKean, he’s considered to be one of the four creators of the movie. And now he’s suing Vivendi, the company that owns the copyright to the movie, alleging that he’s owed $125 million in royalties.
The Guardian reports that Shearer has filed the lawsuit at California’s Central District Court. Vivendi, which owns Universal and StudioCanal, acquired the rights to This Is Spinal Tap in 1989. Since then, Shearer claims, he and the other co-creators haven’t been receiving their share of the profits: “This is a simple issue of artists’ rights. It is stunning that after all this time, two cinema releases, all the various home-video format releases, all the records and CDs, and all the band-themed merchandise still widely available worldwide, the only people who haven’t shared Spinal Tap’s success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place.”
Here’s the video about the lawsuit that Shearer recently posted on Twitter:
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) October 18, 2016
The lawsuit claims that Vivendi has reported that the total income for Spinal Tap merch, between 1989 and 2006, is $86, while total income for its soundtrack sales in the same period is $98, and Shearer’s lawsuit alleges fraud. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, Shearer is also asking for Vivendi’s ownership of the copyright to be terminated.