Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Week In Musics Business and Intellectual Property Lawsuits

Honestly, I should just make this a weekly blog segment, because it seems like every week there's at least two lawsuits that are music business and/or intellectual property-related.

This week I read about two lawsuits that I found of particular interest.

The Arabian Prince Vs. Ruthless Records

First up on the docket, the "Fergalicious" law suit ! That's right, you knew it was bound to happen again, sooner rather then later. Another urban-pop hit ends up getting slammed with a law suit years after receiving much success and creating a large enough pool of revenue for anyone to care about trying to take a piece of. However this is a case of very poor copyright management and administration.

Kim "the Arabian Prince" Nazel is a former member of the iconic rap group N.W.A.. Nazel claims he never authorized the use of his copyrighted work/song "Super Sonic". A portion of this track was sampled and used by Ruthless Records for Fergie's hit single "Fergalicious". The hit song was released on Fergie's debut solo album "The Dutchess" in 2006.

"Super Sonic" was produced by the Arabian Prince and released in 1988 on Ruthless Records.
Kim Nazel also co-produced some of the N.W.A.'s hit songs such as "Straight Outta Compton", "Fuck the Police" and many more. The Arabian Prince filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court in the State of New York on March 9th, against his former record company. Nazel claims he has been refused back payments in royalties that he is owed for the 20% of the sampled composition ("Super Sonic").


Simon and Schuster vs. Stanley "MC Hammer" Burrell

The second lawsuit that I found some what intriguing is between a book publishing company (Simon and Schuster) and rapper MC Hammer. Looks like they're about to bring the hammer down. Apparently the publisher advanced 'Hammer' a sum of money (reportedly $61,000) to finish writing a book that was in the works. The book Hammer was reportedly working on is called "Enemies of the Father: Messages from the Heart on Being A Family Man", and was scheduled for a 2003 release.

Of course this did not happen and several years later Simon and Schuster are suing the rap artist now while he has been receiving attention. MC Hammer was featured in a Super Bowl commercial earlier this year and he is now about to become an official member of the rap reality tv club. A&E has picked up the reality tv show "Hammer Time" which will follow MC Hammer through the events of his career and daily life.

MC Hammer, born Stanley Burrell (46), is being sued for breaching the terms of a contractual agreement he signed with the book publisher back in 2002. The book was never completed, thus never recouping the money that MC Hammer was given in advanced.

Lawsuit lesson: Never accept money for a project that you cannot see through until the very end. It usually results in ending up in an ugly situation such as this which costs more money in legal fee's and takes up valuable court time.

The truth is, while I'm not a lawyer, I do realize that 95% of the time these situations could have been completely avoided altogether in some way. So use your head.

Could any of these situations have been avoided ? How do you think situations like these could have been averted ?

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