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Esther Williams: "Let Me Sue You!"
Highest Court D. District of Columbia
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Williams, Esther
Defendants Bullseye Records
Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records
Island/Def Jam Records
Other Ghostface Killah
Shakur, Tupac
Short Description Williams released the album "Let Me Show You" in 1975, containing the song "Last Night Changed It All (I Really Had A Ball)," which was licensed by Defendant as samples in Ghostface Killah and 2pac tracks in 2002. Plaintiff says she has owned the copyright since 1977, when the label for whom she recorded the album allegedly breached the recording contract through nonpayment and failure to account. Defendant, who was a producer and publisher ar the label, claims he became a partner and is now the owner. The label went out of business in the 1980s. Williams sued Defendant for copyright infringment and other claims, alleging his licensing the song to third parties violated her rights. The two parties differ markedly in their accounts of her contract, Defendant saying 1) she was a "work-for-hire" for the record label, 2) the contract provided for the label's ownership, and 3) Williams received no royalties because there were none to be paid (the album sold only 14 copies and her $11,000 advance was to be recouped before she received any royalties). Since many issues of fact existed regarding both parties relationship to the copyrights, the court refused Defendants motions for summary judgment on copyright infringement and false light invasion of privacy (she didn't approve of rap music). However, Plaintiff could not proceed on copyright claims based on infringement more than three years before her complaint, and her right of publicity action was held preempted by copyright. - LSW

Legal Issues
Contracts Breach Payment & Performance
Copyrights Infringement Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination
  Ownership Joint Authorship, Works-for-Hire & Derivative Creations
General Affirmative Defenses Federal Preemption
    Statutes of Limitation
Torts Privacy Torts False Light
Trademarks & Unfair Competition State Statute/Common Law Right of Publicity


Opinions Williams v. Curington
662 F.Supp.2d 33
D. District of Columbia , August 24, 2009 ( No. 07-0714 (JDB) )


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Related Searches Parties
Bullseye Records ( Defendant )
Ghostface Killah ( Other )
Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records ( Defendant )
Island/Def Jam Records ( Defendant )
Shakur, Tupac ( Other )
Williams, Esther ( Plaintiff )

Legal Issues
Contracts / Breach / Payment & Performance
Copyrights / Infringement / Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination
Copyrights / Ownership / Joint Authorship, Works-for-Hire & Derivative Creations
General / Affirmative Defenses / Federal Preemption
General / Affirmative Defenses / Statutes of Limitation
Torts / Privacy Torts / False Light
Trademarks & Unfair Competition / State Statute/Common Law / Right of Publicity

Courts
D. District of Columbia (highest court)


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