Lady Gaga countersues, claims ex-boyfriend was unlicensed talent agent

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Lady Gaga countersues, claims ex-boyfriend was unlicensed talent agent

Mon Mar 22, 2010 @ 09:56AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Lady-Gaga-jet-1 In reaction to a $30 million lawsuit, Lady Gaga has filed an interesting countersuit against her former boyfriend and producer, Rob Fusari, who claims he came up with her stage name and co-wrote some of her hit songs.

Gaga claims in New York court that the contract between her and Fusari is invalid because he was not a licensed talent agent. She's seeking damages because he allegedly tried to take advantage of an "inexperienced performing artist." The lawsuit challenges the contract that gave him rights to her future earnings as "predatory and financially abusive."

A number of states, including California and New York, require talent agents to be licensed. New York's provisions don't seem as clear cut as California's "Talent Agencies Act," which aims to protect artists from unscrupulous attempts to exploit an artist's talents by voiding contracts when someone is found to have "produced" work on their behalf without a license. But it does have a statute (NY Art and Cultural Affairs Law § 37.07) that generally guides talent representation.

The question, as in most TAA cases, is whether Fusari was acting as an agent or a music producer at the time.

Robert Meloni, the lawyer for Fusari, says Gaga's claim is "ludicrous" and that his client wasn't holding himself out to be an agent. He tells the NY Daily News that "Rob was no more of an 'agent' for her than she is a Roman Catholic nun."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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