Sir Mix-a-Lot Awarded Attorney’s Fees Against Former Collaborator
On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik ruled in favor of hip-hop legend Sir Mix-A-Lot, ordering plaintiff David Ford to pay more than $20,000 in attorney’s fees and other expenses. The ruling came as the latest decision in the copyright suit filed by Ford in March, and follows Judge Lasnik’s dismissal of the suit in September.
Ford, who collaborated on a number of tracks with Sir Mix-A-Lot in the late 1980s and early 90s, sought to recover for copyright violations on a number of songs he believed he co-wrote with Mix-A-Lot, most notably his greatest hit, “Baby Got Back.” According to the plaintiff, he became aware that Mix-A-Lot was registered as the only copyrighted author on the songs after hearing Nicki Minaj’s 2014 smash-hit “Anaconda,” which has a backing track very similar to “Baby Got Back.” Judge Lasnik was persuaded to dismiss the suit following Mix-A-Lot’s successful argument that the alleged claims were barred by a three year statute of limitations for bringing copyright lawsuits, which would have expired nearly twenty years ago.
While Mix-A-Lot originally requested more than $59,000 in attorney’s fees, Ford was able to persuade the court to be lenient on him, with the final order amounting to $21,123. Discussing his reasoning for limiting the amount Ford must pay, Judge Lasnik stated that the order was sufficient to both punish the plaintiff for bringing this frivolous lawsuit and to deter him from brining similar suits in the future, but without causing Ford financial ruin in the present. Ford has already filed a notice of appeal, hoping the Ninth Circuit will reverse the district court’s decision.