Few days after that Superior Court of Leeuwarden delivered its verdict on appeal, we explains why & how the verdict finally gives reason to both parties.
In order to simplify the understanding the conflict between the Dutch DJ & Producer and his former manager, we have taken up the whole file, reconstructed the chronology of events as well as the elements of the file to define 3 distinct problems :
Deception, Conflict of interest & Recording rights
August 2015 : The reasons of conflict
Martin Garrix announced that he left Spinnin ‘Records & Music Allstars, both companies founded by Eelko Van Kooten. In the process, the young DJ & producer announces that he will sue Van Kooten, arguing that his former manager provided “false and misleading information” – therefore showing deception – when, as a teenager, he signed his deals with Van Kooten’s companies.
Martin Garrix also alleged that, by signing an artist he managed to his own label, Van Kooten had had a conflict of interest, and had put together a label deal that was in his own interests, rather than those of his client, ie Garrix.
In the original lawsuit, Garrix sought to get back the sound recording rights that had been assigned to Spinnin Records via his label deal as well as 4.35 million euros in damages. The label then countersued over Garrix ending his ties with the Spinnin companies, claiming that in doing so the producer had cost them over 6.4 million euros in revenue.
December 2015 : A fragile agreement
Elements of the dispute were settled out of court but some of the litigation remained, especially the question about Garrix’s contracts with Van Kooten’s companies and if they were still valid or not. If they were, Spinnin could demand damages, if not Garrix could seek payment from his former business partners.
September 2017 : A first verdict recognizing the conflict of interest
A court in the Netherlands basically ruled in Martin Garrix’s favour, by agreeing that Eelko Van Kooten had a conflict of interest when he signed an artist he managed to his own record company. Judges noted that the Spinnin Records founder could have overcome that conflict by involving a third party arbiter, but did not.
Martin Garrix welcomed that judgement, positioning his battle against the label as being a battle for artist rights. The producer said in a statement:
“ I am happy with this outcome. Not only for myself but also for all other DJs/producers out there, since this case was not only about me, but about all of us artists ”.
– Martin Garrix
December 2019 : A second verdict much more contrasted
Following the first verdict, Eeko’s companies appealed and on 2019 Christmas Eve, the Superior Court of Leeuwarden delivered its verdict on appeal, and it’s not as obvious as what Van Kooten issued in a statement few minutes after the judgement’ announcement :
“ I am delighted with the ruling of the higher court that we made valid agreements with Martin at the time, which should have been respected. This statement confirms that the accusation of deception or fraud was unjustified ”
– Eelko Van Kooten
No Deception but a conflict of interest
In fact, the decision on appeal mostly rejected Martin Garrix’ clomplaint regarding the deception by providing “false and misleading information”, therefore, Eelko Van Kooten did not show deception. But it’s just a semi-victory for Van Kooten because the verdict on appeal did not overturn the first decision arguing that Eelko Van Kooten had made a conflict of interest. It simply limited its effects on Martin Garrix’ interests.
Martin Garrix own his tracks
This verdict hasn’t been welcomed at all as a defeat by Martin Garrix’ management because the court also recognized that Martin Garrix was the owner of his recordings – even if what it means in terms of damages isn’t established – as it has been welcomed in a statement :
” With the Court of Appeal’s decision, Martijn received what he wanted in the first place: to be recognized as master owner/ phonogram producer (…). This is particularly important to him because he hopes that other young artists will realize what their (music) rights are. Already four years ago, Martijn stated that the protection of fellow musicians was an important reason for him to take up this fight, and in that sense, Martijn is pleased with the outcome.”
– Martin Garrix management
No financial compensations
In addition, the court rejected the parties back to back concerning Martin Garrix’ breach of contract considered to be abusive by Van Kooten’ ex-companies, not ordering the producer to pay damages neither to Spinnin ‘Records nor to Music Allstars. The conflict should therefore a priori stop there, but nothing is less certain. To be convinced, just read the last sentence of Martin Garrix’s management statement :
” MAS and Spinnin’ did thus not gain anything with these cases except that they have incurred enormous costs for themselves and Martijn. If they had agreed back in 2015 with the reasonable requests of Martijn, this could all have been prevented. “
– Martin Garrix management