LINKIN PARK Sued By Former Bassist Over 1999 Recordings

November 9, 2023

Bassist Kyle Christner has filed a lawsuit against LINKIN PARK, claiming he didn't receive credit or royalties from the 1999 "Hybrid Theory" EP that he appeared on.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District Of California on Wednesday (November 8), Christner calls himself "a former member of LINKIN PARK" who "collaborated on and recorded numerous songs with the band." He says that the 20th-anniversary box set edition of LINKIN PARK's landmark studio album "Hybrid Theory", which was made available in 2020, contains "many tracks" of which he was "a joint creator of," including "Could Have Been", a" song that had never previously been released in any form and now has nearly a million views on YouTube alone."

According to Christner, he "has never been paid a penny for his work with LINKIN PARK, nor has he been properly credited, even as [his former bandmates] have benefitted from his creative efforts."

Kyle's lawsuit, which was first reported by Bloomberg Law and Rolling Stone, alleges that his name was "removed" from the "Hybrid Theory" EP when it was reissued in 2001 as "a fan club edition." He also claims that the aforementioned "Hybrid Theory" 20th-anniversary box set includes a reissue of the original EP.

"Though Christner was once under the misimpression that his bass parts were re-recorded on the EP after he left the band, he has, upon closer review, identified his bass playing on the edition of the EP included in the box set", the lawsuit states.

The box set, which does not credit Christner for his work on the EP, includes, among other things, rare and previously unreleased tracks on three collections (presented as compact disks in the physical edition) respectively titled "Forgotten Demos", "B-Side Rarities" and "LPU Rarities". Christner says he performed on "many of these recordings", such as a demo of "Could Have Been", a song released for the very first time in connection with the box set.

In a Twitch stream, LINKIN PARK's Mike Shinoda noted that Christner played on "Could Have Been" and described his bass solo on the track as "gnarly."

As of the day the lawsuit was filed, the recording of "Could Have Been" featuring Christner had been streamed more than 948,000 times on YouTube alone.

Christner says he played on other tracks included in the CDs in the box set, such as "She Couldn't", "Chair" and "Step Up". In fact, according to the lawsuit, Christner appears to have played on at least tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of "Forgotten Demos", tracks 1, 2, 7, 13, 14, 16, 17 of "LPU Rarities", and track 7 of "B-Side Rarities", as well as the "Hybrid Theory" EP.
Christner's presence on various tracks is evidenced by, among other things, the fact that singer Chester Bennington, who joined the band after Christner, is on vocals.

One or more tracks in the box set on which Bennington sings and Christner plays, including "Blue", appears to have been mistakenly dated 1998, before Bennington or Christner joined the band.

In addition to performing on the sound recordings, Christner claims that he also helped compose songs and versions of songs included in the box set.

In an online interview, Shinoda discussed the band's songwriting process, which often involved all of its members. Commenting on the massively popular song "In The End", Shinoda stated: "I came up with the piano and the chorus music and chorus lyrics. Then Brad [Delson, guitar] came up with the guitar in the verse and we worked on the bassline and composition. From there, I think everybody in the band began chipping in and adding their parts and critiquing each other's parts."

Nonparty Jeff Blue, who worked closely with LINKIN PARK when they were recording the EP and various demos, said of one track recorded with Christner, "The bass line is sick," and of another, "Even the bass line is perfect."

The words "Additional Bass by Kyle Christner" appear on "Forgotten Demos". However, there is no other attribution to Christner in the box set, even though he says he plays on recordings on all three CDs and the EP.

Christner was not contacted before the box set was released.

Christner first discovered that his work was included in the box set approximately two months after its release. Subsequently, Christner also learned of several earlier compilations of demos and rarities that had been released to LINKIN PARK's fan club under the series title "LP Underground". He also subsequently learned of the fan club reissue of the EP.

Before he learned of the box set, Christner says he had no reason to know that his former bandmates had been publishing and profiting from the EP and various demos on which he had played.

Christner says that he was contacted by a member of the LINKIN PARK management team in or around April 2023. The management representative said to Christner in writing, "I would like to discuss some royalties due from the 'Hybrid Theory' 20th Anniversary release." The representative later told Christner in writing, "You get mechanical royalties for 3 demos and the 6-song 'Hybrid Theory' EP that you performed on." Christner inquired about the basis for the royalties, stating, "I would like to know what you are offering before signing anything."

On a Zoom call in June 2023, Christner reiterated his request for the basis of the royalty calculation and noted that he believed he was entitled to royalties on more tracks than the management representative had acknowledged. Christner followed up with a letter to the management outlining the results of his own initial review, which listed more than twenty songs. The letter stated that Christner wanted credit for his work. Christner's letter added, "If you do not believe I deserve writing credits on these songs, please state your reasons for that in your response."

Subsequently, upon being contacted by Christner's attorney, LINKIN PARK's management denied that Christner's work appeared anywhere in the box set, with only the "possible exception" of performing on "Could Have Been".

Kyle's lawsuit adds: "In other words, after admitting that Christner played on at least some tracks included in the box set and admitting that Christner was entitled to at least some 'mechanical' royalties, which are royalties paid for compositions, Defendants repudiated Christner's co-authorship and co-ownership of the works at issue."

Christner is asking the court to determine who authored and owns the disputed songs and an accounting of all the profits generated by the works. Christner also requested payment for back royalties, interest, and attorney's fees.

"It would be unjust for defendants to retain such benefit without paying plaintiff his fair share," the lawsuit added.

LINKIN PARK members Shinoda, Delson, Rob Bourdon and Joseph Hahn are listed as defendants alongside the band's management company, Machine Shop, and record label, Warner Records.

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