Family feud at Jurassic Park

A confusing battle over intellectual property rights and trademark has left the Finnish heavy metal scene in tearful turmoil. Hevisaurus―the gold- and platinum record selling heavy metal band―has fallen into a limbo after the negotiations between self-proclaimed originator Mirka Rantanen and the group’s original label, Sony Music came to a halt. Primal rage inducing  legal battles are ongoing and no doubt, more are firing up as the band’s GWAR-meets-Barney outfits were confiscated, grinding the performers’ tour plans to a halt.

Details are sketchy at best but the motivation behind it all is clear: Money, more money and shitloads of money. Tapping an untapped market, Hevisaurus helped shape traditional metal into a child- and family friendly form and as a result, sold thousands of records and concert tickets in the process. The band’s two albums, Jurahevin Kuninkaat (2009) and Hirmuliskojen Yö (2010) pierced through the Finnish album charts.

According to Sony Music Finland’s CEO Kimmo Valtanen, the band’s rights and the brand belongs to the production company Helsinki Pump Production. They are working in close cooperation with Sony Music as they’ve given the label a license for pretty much everything involving the band. The label has been responsible for producing the music, selling the merchandise and dealing with everyday operations. What makes it all the more baffling is the fact that Mirka Rantanen previously acted as the production company’s chairman. He is remains as one of the company’s stakeholders.

Supposedly Rantanen has been demanding all the rights to be transferred into his own personal name. Both Sony Music and the production company call such demands unreasonable. In some interviews, Rantanen has presented himself as the concept’s original inventor. Valtanen denies such ideas: “When we signed the record deal with HPP for Hevisaurus in the spring of 2009, there were two songs and one piece of concept art for the band’s visual look, done by artist Janne Pitkänen. After that, everything was innovated and developed together by a group of people.” Valtanen also went on record to say that in his mind Hevisaurus is all the people who created the sound and the music. Most of the writing credits belong to Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone) and Pasi Heikkilä ― the former also played the guitar and the latter dealt with bass and keys. Other musicians included vocalist Olavi Tikka and drummer [drumroll, please] Mirka Rantanen (Thunderstone, Warmen). Other musicians have also taken part in the fun. For example, Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) penned down a tune for the first album. Laurenne and Kotipelto are also owners in the Helsinki Pump Productions.

The warring factions have blamed each other for the failed negotiations and creed. Both Rantanen and Sony Music have filed for copyrights over the band’s characters. Sony Music has come forward and said that they hope to see the band as a licensable franchise and a proof of concept that can be sold and cloned to other countries.

There are also differing news about Rantanen’s new band, Sauruxet that was formed after the confiscation incident. Some sources say that all the members, aside from vocalist, switched over to the new group  and that Sony is looking to replace them all. On the other hand, other sources claim that only Rantanen left and that he’s looking for new performers. In his statement, Sauruxet mainman Rantanen mentions that they’ve already ordered new outfits and soon ready to resume touring. He also expressed hopes of fans following the ‘real deal’. Meanwhile, Sony Music has confirmed that Hevisaurus is in the process of writing new material for their third album.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who knows but the most important question is: Who will the audience follow? That remains to be seen.