What's valuable about the Backstreet Boys? Is it the actual boys, or the "concept?" Four of the five preteen idols filed a $10 million fraud lawsuit in federal court against manager Louis J. Pearlman claiming he took advantage of the young stars, and took most of their earnings, by duping them into signing contracts that grant Pearlman 43 percent of the Boys' net earnings and give Trans Continental Records, which Pearlman directs, control of key trademarks. Pearlman's lawyers say it isn't true and, anyway, if it were, it would be OK because Pearlman put the Boys where they are now, and (as Human League sang) he can put them back down.
"Lou Pearlman created the concept of the Backstreet Boys," lawyer Cheney Mason told Orlando Business Journal. Pearlman, meanwhile, has filed a $100 million claim against Zomba Recording Co., the New York studio where the Boys made their two most popular albums. Despite selling 20 million discs worldwide, Zomba has paid no royalties, claiming it has not yet recouped its costs. So, what's valuable about the Backstreet Boys? The royalties.