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News February 18, 2022

Stereosonic founder embroiled in bitter stalker court battle

Stereosonic founder embroiled in bitter stalker court battle

The founder of the popular music festival Stereosonic is embroiled in a bitter court battle with a former friend after he feared a stalker would hunt him down at his own home.

The festival’s founder Richie McNeill is being sued for more than $66,000 by architect Nicholas Ruljancich, as reported by the Herald Sun.

According to Ruljancich, McNeill allegedly breached a contract when he refused to let him inside his Melbourne home in order to take marketing pictures of renovations the architect had spent five years doing.

The former friends faced off in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this week, where McNeill explained that he refused entry due to serious privacy concerns: he had a “pesky neighbour” and feared that an old stalker would be able to locate his home from Ruljancich’s pictures.

“I’ve had a girl stalk me in the past,” McNeill informed the court. “I didn’t want her knowing where I live… (and) leaving notes in my car.”

As per a work agreement between the pair, Ruljancich’s firm Raidstudio held copyright of the project’s design which meant that McNeill had to provide them with ‘reasonable access” to take pictures. McNeill, however, claimed that during a phone conversation in May 2016 they agreed copyright would actually be assigned to the homeowner.

Ruljancich rejected this claim and insisted no such conversation took place, with the copyright issue instead being raised by McNeill after moving into the home in September 2019.

The situation intensified when Ruljancich visited the Toorak home accompanied by a photographer in June 2019 and took pictures of the renovations without the owner’s permission. Follow-up calls requesting access to take additional pictures were missed by McNeill as a result of his busy work schedule, which led Ruljancich to seek legal counsel.

“We thought based on Richie’s actions he wasn’t going to let us in… We wanted to remind him of his obligations,” he said. “We sent a letter from a lawyer because we were at a loggerhead.”

Despite supposedly “warming” to the idea, access still wasn’t granted by McNeill. Ruljancich then had computer generated images of the home produced, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

According to defence lawyer Gautam Mukherji, the gap between the two parties was “unbridgeable”. Ruljancich is seeking either a court order granting access to finally take the pictures or $66,742.50 in damages from McNeill to cover the costs of the computer generated images of the home.

A decision will be made at a later date.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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