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1. Coca-Copyright Case
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Vergara, Rafa
Defendants Coca-Cola
Other Bisbal, David
K'naan
Short Description Rafa Vergara isn't as well known as the other names associated with this suit, but he is a very accomplished songwriter, producer, and performer, whose contributions to Latin stars like Marc Anthony and Jaci Velasquez have garnered significant success in the music business. Coca Cola, through Universal Music, contacted Vergara about adapting English lyrics by the artist K'naan into Spanish, to be sung by David Bisbal, for an upcoming Coca Cola advertisement during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer Games. Vergara, with full permission, translated the lyrics and also produced the song. When Vergara sent a bill to Universal, they asked him to sign a document clarifying that his work was done "for hire," which means he did not own the copyright in his own contributions. Vergara brought suit, alleging copyright infringement and requesting a preliminary injunction preventing Coca-Cola from airing the commercial without proper attribution, as he was guaranteed. The court granted Vergara's request, finding that the work was not "for hire," and, further, that he was not a joint author but the sole author of the derivative composition. Irreparable harm was also likely without injunctive relief. However, summary judgment was later granted to Coke's on the copyright infringement claim, despite Vergara's contentions, because Vergara had, in writing, assigned his copyrights to Coke via email communications; the Copyright Act requires assignments to be in writing, and the communications met this requirement. Nonetheless, a preliminary injunction was upheld against Coke in a later opinion because the lack of attribution, which was plainly promised to Vergara, was still likely to cause harm. - LSW


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2. Luny Contract Invalid?
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
LT's Benjamin Records
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
UMG Records
Other Luny Tunes
Short Description Plaintiffs include Luny, of the production duo Luny Tunes, best known for their central role in the reggaeton careers of artists such as Daddy Yankee. Defendants, including entities of the Universal Music Group, contracted to be provided Plaintiff's exclusive output, as per standard recording agreements. In this suit, Luny alleged that Defendants breached their contract, that the contract was an unenforceable restraint on trade, that UMG failed to adequately promote Plaintiff's work, and that he was owed over $2.5 million in past due amounts. This opinion addressed mostly Plaintiff's claims that the contract was an illegal restraint on trade, brought under state statutes. Most record contracts restrict artists' legal rights to perform for other record labels, and this contract was no different. On Defendant's motion to dismiss, the court held that one vital element of the claim, the "reasonableness" of the restrictive covenant in the contract, was an issue of fact that was not properly decided on a motion to dismiss. - LSW


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3. Who Owns "Expose" Mark?
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Music Producer(s)
Record Label(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Talent Agent(s)
Other Expos?
Short Description This is a trademark dispute between the band Expose (an all-girl, early 1990s singing group) and a film company that owns a trademark in the name for music performance-related products, regarding ownership of the name. During settlement negotiations between the band and Plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest during the mid-1990s, the band admitted Plaintiff's predecessor owned the name, and entered a trademark license agreement stating as much. In 2007, the band's legal counsel sent a letter saying Plaintiffs did not actually own the name, stating that the band would seek to register it for themselves. Plaintiffs brought suit for trademark infringement and unfair competition, among numerous other related causes of action. The band's entities counterclaimed, alleging the earlier settlements were induced by fraud, and requesting rescission of the settlement. After venue was found to be proper, the court held that--while the contract cannot be rescinded because Plaintiff was not a party to settlement negotiations, but merely purchased the name from that party--Defendants' counterclaim for fraud was validly stated. Justifiable reliance required further fact-finding, and could not be dismissed summarily. - LSW


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4. Indian Song Sampled by The Game
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Record Label(s)
Defendants 50 Cent
Aftermath Records
G-Unit
Interscope Records
Timbaland
Universal Music Group
Warner Bros. Music
Other Game (The)
Short Description Plaintiffs purport to own copyrights to a 1967 Indian song "Baghon Mein Bahar Hai," from the 1969 Indian film, "Aradhana," and allege that Defendants, The Game, his publisher, and record label, sampled a snippet from the song (a barely-audible "na na na" sung by the female lead). While the court found the song did indeed sample Plaintiff's recording, Plaintiff could not show ownership of the copyrights, and regardless, Defendant's use was so short, and the final song sounded so completely different from the sample recording, the court held for Defendants. - LSW


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5. 50 Cent Polices his Trademarks
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs 50 Cent
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Other G-Unit
Short Description 50 Cent sued the owners of a nightclub in Cancun, Mexico, for using his image and likeness and the G-Unit mark (commonly used on 50 Cent's merchandise) to advertise, promote, endorse, and draw attention to the nightclub. The Court dismissed Defendant nightclub owners' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction, as well as Defendant's motion for forum non conveniens. - SKR


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6. Using J-Lo Without Permission
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Website Proprietor(s)
Other Estefan, Gloria
Lopez, Jennifer
Short Description The music publisher that owned the song "Let's Get Loud," written by Gloria Estefan and performed by Jennifer Lopez, sued a nightclub called Coco Bongo in Cancun, Mexico, and associated entities and individuals, for using the song in their commercials online and on television. In Defendants' advertisements for the night club, they commonly used likenesses of American celebrities, largely because their clientele is at least 50% U.S. citizens vacationing in the area. Defendant sought to dismiss for lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction, as well as failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The court held subject matter existed, even though Defendant's activities with largely extraterritorial, because Defendant's website, which infringed Plaintiff's rights, was accessible in the U.S. and Defendant advertised actively within the U.S. Personal jurisdiction existed through the website, which was interactive and clearly aimed at U.S. citizens, as well as Defendants' agents' presence at trade shows and advertisements with Florida agencies. Lastly, because the website and ads clearly appropriated Plaintiff's copyrighted sound recording, a valid claim for infringement had been stated. Motion to dismiss denied. - LSW


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7. Poison Clan Rapper vs. Record Label
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Lil' Joe Records
Music Publisher(s)
Other 2 Live Crew
Luke Records
Poison Clan
Short Description Band sued Luke Records after it went bankrupt and was unable to fulfill its contracts with Plaintiff. Judgment for Defendant. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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8. 2 Live Crew vs. 50 Cent
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Lil' Joe Wein Music, Inc.
Defendants 50 Cent
Interscope Records
Shady Records
Universal Music Group
Other 2 Live Crew
Short Description The copyright holder of 2 Live Crew's song "It's Your Birthday" sued 50 Cent and his record company for copyright infringement for the use of the phrase "Go____, it's Your Birthday" in his hit song "In Da Club," which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Court granted judgment for 50 Cent, holding that the use of the disputed phrase is a common hip hop chant, and was therefore not an original copyrightable element of a song. - SKR


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9. Record Labels Fight Over Pitbull
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Music Producer(s)
Slip-N-Slide Records
Defendants TVT Records
Other Luke Records
Pitbull
Short Description Slip-N-Slide sued TVT for contract violation, among other assorted causes of action. Judgment for Plaintiff, but amount remitted on appeal. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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10. Don Kirshner Bankrupt!
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Kirshner, Don
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Donald Kirshner, a Famous rock producer, former manager of the Monkees, and the man that Time Magazine called "The Man With The Golden Ear," filed for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the court decided that Kirshner could not discharge his debt because he failed to keep adequate records from which creditors, and the trustee of his estate, might reasonably ascertain his financial condition. - SKR


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11. More Sex Tapes, More Lawsuits
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Kid Rock
Top Dog Records
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other Creed
Short Description In the original lawsuit, a Florida woman known only as "Jane Doe" sought to prevent Defendant from distributing a video tape purporting to depict her committing various sexual acts with Kid Rock and Scott Stapp from the Christian rock band Creed. According to the Huffington Post, the acts involved oral sex and somehow occurred relatively simultaneously. Doe moved to depose Kid Rock regarding his role, and Rock sought to learn Doe's real identity by deposing her lawyer. Doe's lawyer sought to deny the attempt, claiming this information was protected by the attorney-client privilege and further that Doe had an interest in maintaining her privacy. The court disagreed. Doe decided to file her lawsuit, and she cannot now shield her identity from the very parties involved in the suit. According to the Post, Rock and Stapp's relationship got "awkward" after this incident was made public. You'd think concurrent blowjobs would've been awkward to begin with. - LSW


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12. Jack Boyz vs. Trick Daddy and Bleek
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Artist(s)
Defendants Island Def Jam Music Group
Memphis Bleek
Rock-A-Fella Records
Trick Daddy
Universal Music Group
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Members of an unknown Fort Lauderdale rap group, the Jack Boyz, sued hip-hop artists Trick Daddy and Memphis Bleek, alleging the Boyz song "Around Here" and Bleek's similar track, "'Round Here," were substantially similar, and thus Bleek's song, which was later in time, constituted copyright infringement. Trick Daddy had purportedly been present on five occasions when Plaintiffs performed their song live, though it was never aired nationally on radio or music-oriented television. Plaintiffs argued that this minimal access, combined with Daddy's guest verse on Bleek's song and the tunes' alleged similarities, proved infringement. The court granted summary judgment for Defendants, holding that the simple phrase "around here," or any slight variation, was not sufficiently original to serve as a basis for infringement, and no other similarities were substantial. Furthermore, Plaintiffs' chain of access required Trick Daddy to have remembered the Jack Boyz song and taught it to Bleek, though Bleek authored the song himself without Trick's help. Since the song was not widely distributed, access could not be shown. Without similarity or access, there can be no infringement. - LSW


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13. Canceled TLC Gig Leads to Court
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Other TLC
Short Description Complicated proceeding between parties involved in TLC concert after band failed to perform, parties lost money, etc... - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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14. Zeppelin Bootleggers Busted
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 1998
Plaintiffs Led Zeppelin
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description While on tour, Led Zeppelin sued "bootleg" souvenir producers, despite not knowing their precise identity. In some similar these suits are granted, but not here. Because identities of defendants unknown, the court denied Plaintiffs relief. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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15. Lyric Translator vs. Julio Iglesias
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Iglesias, Julio
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff assisted Iglesias with translating a French song into Spanish, and was allegedly promised royalties in return, but never received any royalties. She sued Iglesias over 10 years later, asserting numerous contract-based claims. While the claims were not preempted by the copyright, since they were not equivalent to copyright rights, the statute of limitations began when Plaintiff first knew of the deficient payment, and is barred. - LSW


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16. "The Man" vs. 2 Live Crew (I)
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 1990
Plaintiffs 2 Live Crew
Luke Records
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A Broward County sheriff found probable cause that 2 Live Crew's third album, Nasty as They Wanna Be, was obscene, and arrested a black retailer for selling the album. The rap group sued the county for restraint and First Amendment protection, but were subsequently arrested for performing the song in a Florida nightclub. The court reversed the lower court's obscenity ruling, finding that the sheriff failed to apply the Supreme Court's obscenity standard in Miller v. California. The court was unwilling to concede that the last prong of the Miller test, which requires determination of whether a work "lacks serious artistic, scientific, literary or political value," was met in this case. - SKR & LSW


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17. Kenny Rogers Defamed Boat Buyer?
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 1986
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Rogers, Kenny
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff purportedly sought to purchase a boat from Kenny Rogers, here referred to as Kenneth "Roy" Rogers, which is not is middle name (Donald, actually), but the negotiations broke down and Rogers sued for fraudulent conduct in connection with the purchase. Plaintiff was unresponsive to court rulings and ignored duties under the subsequent settlement, then sued Rogers for defamation, seeking $23,000,000, despite a previously signed agreement releasing Rogers from such claims. The court granted summary judgment for Defendant, ending the "marathon of litigation." - LSW


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18. Luke Campbell's Bankruptcy
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 1985
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other 2 Live Crew
Luke Records
Mother of Child of Artist(s)
Short Description During the process of filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the former leader of the rap group 2 Live Crew sought a stay of child support and paternity proceedings against him. The court held that the automatic stay provision of a bankruptcy statute did not apply to the paternity and child support proceedings. - SKR


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