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Biggie Sampled Ohio Players
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Bridgeport Music
Westbound Records
Defendants Bad Boy Records
Music Publisher(s)
UMG Records
Universal Records
Other Notorious B.I.G.
Ohio Players
Short Description Westbound Records and Bridgeport Music are more commonly associated with copyright infringement lawsuits involving George Clinton's musical output, but it appears they owned some Ohio Players songs as well. Ohio Players are, of course, a 1970s funk band known for tight instrumentation and top-notch vocals. The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) used an unlicensed sample of Ohio Players' "Singing in the Morning" in his song "Ready to Die," after being denied clearance for a Jimi Hendrix sample. Plaintiffs sued Biggie's publisher and record label, who admittedly cleared the use of the unlicensed samples, and Plaintiffs elected to receive statutory and punitive damages on the copyright claims (they also brought various unfair competition-related actions). The federal jury found in their favor, granting over $4 million, all but $500,000 of which was punitive. On appeal, Defendants argued the high punitive damages were the result of jury prejudice and improper exclusion of Defendants' offer to settle amicably, which they argued vitiated against willfulness, and claimed the trial court's bifurcation of damages and liability was reversible error. The Court of Appeals disagreed as to Defendants' reasoning, but reduced damages nonetheless for two reasons: 1) compensatory damages impermissibly included compound and prejudgment interest, and 2) the punitive damages were unconstitutionally excessive, because Defendants' conduct was not reprehensible and the disparity between compensatory and punitive damages was almost 10-to-1 (said the court, 2-to-1 would be more appropriate). An injunction was upheld. On remand, the District Court applied the Circuit's ruling above. - LSW

Legal Issues
Civil Procedure Evidence Admissibility
Copyrights Infringement Common Law Rights
    Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination
Torts Privacy Torts Commercial Misappropriation of Name/Likeness
Trademarks & Unfair Competition State Statute/Common Law Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts


Opinions Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Justin Combs Pub.
507 F.3d 470
Sixth Circuit , October 17, 2007 ( No. 06-6294 )


Westbound Records, Inc. v. Justin Combs Pub., Inc.
2009 WL 943516
M.D. Tennessee , April 03, 2009 ( No. 3:05-0155 )


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Related Searches Parties
Bad Boy Records ( Defendant )
Bridgeport Music ( Plaintiff )
Music Publisher(s) ( Defendant )
Notorious B.I.G. ( Other )
Ohio Players ( Other )
UMG Records ( Defendant )
Universal Records ( Defendant )
Westbound Records ( Plaintiff )

Legal Issues
Civil Procedure / Evidence / Admissibility
Copyrights / Infringement / Common Law Rights
Copyrights / Infringement / Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination
Torts / Privacy Torts / Commercial Misappropriation of Name/Likeness
Trademarks & Unfair Competition / State Statute/Common Law / Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts

Courts
Sixth Circuit (highest court)
M.D. Tennessee


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