Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months…
Continue reading...

‘Hits of the 80s’ Producer Facing Class Action for Breaking ‘Promises, Promises’ to Consumers

On March 20, 2014, Tutm Entertainment, a media company known for producing music albums such as ‘Hits of the 80s’ and ‘Hits of the 90s,’ was hit with a class action suit in New Jersey federal court.  The suit, headed by lead plaintiff Celeste Farrell, is seeking over $5 million in damages for advertising practices Farrell claims constitute consumer fraud. In particular, Farrel’s filing accused Tutm of releasing albums that appeared to contain the original versions of classic hits such as “Cult of Personality” by…
Continue reading...

Mötley Crüe Signs Agreement to Stay “Home Sweet Home” After Final Tour

On January 28, 2014, rock and rollers Mötley Crüe announced that they would permanently dissolve the group after a final tour, going so far as to sign an agreement which will force the band into permanent retirement.  Now however, band members have commented that the so-called “cessation of touring agreement” is simply that.  In other words, the contract wouldn’t split the group up – it would simply prevent them from ever going on tour again.  The agreement would also restrict the band’s ability to perform…
Continue reading...

They Just Wanted to do the ‘Super Bowl Shuffle,’ but now Former Bears are Heading to Court, Looking for Trouble…

On January 31, six members of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears filed a lawsuit to prevent current license holders Julia Meyer and the Renaissance Marketing Corporation from using the “Super Bowl Shuffle” music video for personal financial gain.  The video, which was created by the team three months prior to the Bears’ victory in Super Bowl XX, was an instant success, earning a gold record, a platinum video award, and even a Grammy nomination. The ex-Chicago bears who brought the suit –Richard Dent,…
Continue reading...

Funk Band Finally Listens to Hip-Hop, Files Suit Over Sample Used in 2003 Track

1970’s funk band Bloodstone filed suit in Missouri federal court on May 20, 2013 against Universal Music Group, Inc. (UMG) for copyright infringement of their 1979 song “I’m Just Doing My Job.” The Complaint, filed by members of Bloodstone alleges that UMG gave rappers T.I. and Kanye West a license to sample the 1979 song for use in TI’s hit “Doin’ My Job” without permission from the band. Bloodstone members Charles Love, Harry Williams, and Charles McCormick retain the sound recording and composition rights for…
Continue reading...

Songwriters Seek ‘Somebody’ to Sue – Hit Bieber and Usher with $10 Million Copyright Infringement Suit

On May 2, 2013, Justin Bieber, Usher, and Universal Music Corporation were slapped with a $10 million copyright infringement lawsuit by Virginia songwriters Devin Copeland (a.k.a. ‘De Rico’) and Mareio Overton.  Plaintiffs accuse Bieber and the others of stealing their song “Somebody to Love” – a song which Bieber released as a hit single in 2010.  Usher and Bieber later collaborated to release a remix of the song. Plaintiffs allege they handed the song over to music industry scouts in 2008, and it was then…
Continue reading...

1..2..3..4..Court Shows Lohan’s Suit Against Pitbull the Door

U.S. District Judge Dennis R. Hurley recently tossed Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against the rapper Pitbull, citing First Amendment protections as grounds for his decision. Lohan filed the suit against Pitbull and several other defendants after the rapper released a 2011 song entitled “Give Me Everything” – a track which included the following lyrics: “So, “I’m tiptoein’ to keep flowin’/ I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan.”  Lohan’s complaint alleged violations of the New York Civil Rights Law (for using her name in advertising/trade without…
Continue reading...

Judge Tells Plaintiff to ‘Just Go Away’ in Mötley Crüe Copyright Suit

Recently, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady dismissed a copyright infringement suit brought against the band Mötley Crüe in alleging the band improperly used copyrighted photos of themselves – photos acquired and copyrighted by Plaintiff Ron Toma in 2008 – as backdrops for recent rock concerts.  Toma filed suit against the band in the Northern District of Illinois. Judge Grady’s decision noted that the band had only “sporadic” contacts with Illinois, making the state an inappropriate forum for the action, stating “[t]hese contacts are extensive…
Continue reading...

No Doubt Settles ‘Band Hero’ Lawsuit over Avatars with Activision

On October 3, 2012, popular musicians No Doubt settle their ongoing lawsuit against Activision Publishing, Inc. over the use of the group’s ‘avatars’ in the ‘Band Hero’ video game. No Doubt had filed suit for breach of contract and right to publicity claims when it was discovered that players could use the No Doubt avatars to perform songs in the game by other musicians. No Doubt alleged that they had been “turned into a virtual karaoke act” by the game, and asserted that the game…
Continue reading...

Sinatra’s Estate Prevails in Trademark (Hot)Dog Fight with Food Truck Owner

On September 12, 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s appeals board upheld the denial of an attempt to trademark the name “Franks Anatra,” holding that it wrongfully referenced the famous singer Frank Sinatra and was likely to cause confusion or otherwise imply a false association with the iconic American singer. The estate of Sinatra and Frank Sinatra Enterprises LLC led the opposition toMichiganhot dog truck owner Bill Loizon’s application noting that they currently owned the rights to three trademarks which registered the name Frank…
Continue reading...