Forget Napster and the gaggle of file-sharing software clones; according to rock star/actress Courtney Love, the real enemy in the war against music piracy is the music industry itself. Love recently issued an open letter to her fellow recording artists, calling on them to join her in a "united front" against the record companies and blow the whistle on what she calls "unfair, unlawful, fraudulent, and oppressive business practices."

In pleading her case, the outspoken Hole leader cited the hard-luck story of multiplatinum artists such as TLC and Toni Braxton, saying both were "forced to declare bankruptcy because their recording contracts didn't pay them enough to survive."

Love also recounted the tragic tale of the Supremes' Florence Ballard, who appeared on hits such as "Stop in the Name of Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On," yet "was on welfare when she died." Said Love, "Artists who have generated billions of dollars for the music industry die broke and uncared for by the business they made wealthy. I'm driven by the misfortune of other artists who don't have my privilege and ability."

Love currently is trying to break her contract with Vivendi Universal, and recently won the right to file a countersuit against the company. Universal sued Love in January 2000 seeking damages for five undelivered albums. Love's suit claims she was coerced into signing away her rights, a charge Universal dismissed in court documents as a "meritless, inflammatory diatribe" designed to "attract media attention."

Love's manager, Jim Barber, tells TV Guide Online: "Ideally, this case could redefine the way record companies pay artists, and give them an opportunity to actually share in the proceeds."

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Love said, "I could end up being the music industry's worst nightmare — a smart gal with a fat bank account who is unafraid to go down in flames fighting for a principle."