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1. Producer: "Everyone Ripped Me Off!"
Highest Court D. District of Columbia
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Music Producer(s)
Music Retailer(s)
Defendants 50 Cent
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Banks, Lloyd
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Cash Money Records
Dash, Damon
Def Jam Music Group
Ertegun, Ahmet
Fat Joe
Interscope Records
Legend, John
Lil' Wayne
MTV Networks
Paramount Pictures
Professional Athlete(s)
Reid, L.A.
Rock-A-Fella Records
Talent Agent(s)
Turner, Ted
UMG Records
Universal Music Group
Warner Music Group
Warner-Chappell Music
West, Kanye
Ying Yang Twins
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff sued 45 industry defendants, including 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Fat Joe, and others for copyright infringement of songs he had sent to the labels for review. The Plaintiff had previously bought an educational CD made by a division of Universal, which explained how to succeed in music. After failing to serve most of the defendants, the defendant continued to file "baseless motions" and disregarded the Court's order to submit the list of infringed works as well as CDs containing his stolen music. The Court explained how copyright law works, dissecting the amateurish arguments of the Defendant. Essentially, every alleged theft was based on unprotectible elements, i.e. his "stolen song" and the defendant's song would both be about upset, urban young males. This was the case for every one of the fourteen songs. - JMC

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2. Janet's Breast Costs CBS
Highest Court Supreme Court of the United States
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Defendants CBS Television
Television Corporation(s)
Other Jackson, Janet
Timberlake, Justin
Short Description When Janet Jackson's breast was exposed while dancing with Justin Timberlake during the Superbowl Half-Time show on live television, the Federal Communications Commission fined CBS, the station that aired the incident. CBS tried to argue the enforcement was an "arbitrary and capricious" departure from prior precedent, which allowed for leeway in such situations, but the U.S. Supreme Court, after numerous lower courts' holdings, held for the F.C.C. Honestly, CBS, it's not like you really thought boobs were supposed to be on live primetime TV. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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3. Lost Jewelry at Prodigy Video Shoot
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Jewelry Retailer(s)
Defendants Insurer(s)
Music Video Producer(s)
Record Label(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff, a manufacturer and seller of jewelry, rented necklaces to Prodigy to be worn in a music video shoot in Queensbridge, New York. The Plaintiff sued Prodigy, the record company, and the insurance company for bailment, breach of bailment, conversion, and breach of contract after the lead singer of the group, Albert Johnson, left the video shoot wearing a borrowed necklace, and was subsequently robbed at gunpoint. The court dismissed the complaints against all Defendants except for the insurance company, which breached its contract by refusing to cover the necklace under the terms of the insurance policy. - LSW & SKR

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4. Jurassic Tour Bus Accident
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Jurassic 5
Defendants Bus Driver(s)
Private Transporter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Jurassic 5 leased a private bus for their upcoming tour, and the driver was hired by the band. When the bus had an accident that resulted in injuries to band, this lawsuit ensued, with the band arguing Defendant transportation company and bus driver were responsible. The Defendants argued that Plaintiffs, through their corporation, had employed the bus driver, and thus were his statutory "employer" at the time of the accident, according to the contract between them. If this were true, Plaintiffs would have no cause of action, as they would be responsible for his actions. While the court held the contract between the parties clearly made the driver the band's employee, it did not necessarily find the contract binding on the individual members themselves. Thus, the band members may have causes of action against the Defendants individually. The court reversed the lower court's judgment for Defendant on all counts. - LSW

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5. Lynyrd Skynyrd Fan Legally Must Get a Life
Highest Court N.D. Texas
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Lynyrd Skynyrd
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description After a drug-related relationship between Lynyrd Skynyrd and a "high-profile fan" soured during a concert in Jackson Hole Wyoming in the summer of 1997, the fan sued for breach of contract, claiming the band never delivered on their promise to give him four tickets to a concert in Dallas, per a settlement agreement. The court granted Defendants' motion of summary judgment, holding that the fan's breach of contract claim was legally insufficient since he requested the tickets only two days before the Dallas concert. - SKR

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6. Coked-Out Fan Sues for Injury
Highest Court E.D. Pennsylvania
Year Ended 1998
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Security Service(s)
Other Mötley Crüe
Short Description Motley Crue's fans are a motley crew in and of themselves. In this hilarious case, Plaintiff was quite obviously a burnout and an idiot; he broke his neck while drunk, coked out, standing on a 4-foot-hight barrier, and resisting security guards' attempts to bring him down and prevent him from rushing the stage. He even punched one of the guards in the face. Furthermore, his neck was already fragile from a moronic attempt to jump across an eight foot pit at a construction site a year earlier (again while drunk). At that's not even an exclusive list. Jeez. The court was very kind, and excluded the cocaine and other evidence from trial. Nevertheless, unsurprisingly, the jury found that any negligence on Defendants' part was inconsequential. Plaintiff was remarkably negligent himself. According to the court, Plaintiff's lawyer was pretty bad too, spending many hours researching a futile argument against the court's rather routine practice of trial bifurcation, presenting appeals on issues never objected to at trial, and seeking to admit expert testimony from someone without knowledge of the subject of his testimony. All evidence was strongly, undeniably in Defendant's favor. - LSW

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7. Red Hot Chili Penis Leads to Lawsuit
Highest Court Circuit Court of Virginia
Year Ended 1992
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Music Manager(s)
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Talent Agent(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The Red Hot Chili Peppers were set to perform at George Mason University, and Plaintiff was among the students waiting outside the Peppers' room after their performance. The band members came out of the room, made some sexually disaparaging comments, and then lead singer Anthony Kiedas poked Plaintiff's cheek with his penis. Adding insult to injury, the band allegedly stole her car. Plaintiff sued the band members, which makes sense, but also sued their management company. Despite the common negligence rule that people do not owe duties to foresee or prevent the tortious or criminal conduct of third parties, Plaintiff argued the circumstances prevented an exception, because a "special relationship" existed between the band and their management. Though Kiedas is certainly amenable to suit (court's don't normally buy the "But it's a FAMOUS penis!" defense), the management company was found not liable; if any master-servant relationship existed, it was the mangement company that was the agent for the band, not vice versa, and no rule holds servants liable for the tortious conduct of their principal, when the servant was in no way involved. Defendant had not "taken charge" of the band members so as to create a duty to control them. - LSW

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8. Blues Legend vs. Classic Rock Copyists
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1987
Plaintiffs Dixon, Willie
Defendants Amercian Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
Atlantic Records
Harry Fox Agency
Led Zeppelin
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Led Zeppelin are known for ripping music off. Yeah, they're known for other things too, but this is their trait most relevant to the Discography. The opening riff to "Stairway to Heaven," for example, is a direct copy of Spirit's "Taurus," an instrumental song Spirit performed when Zeppelin was their opening act. Here, they were accused by Willie Dixon of ripping off his song "I Need Love" in their song "Whole Lotta Love." This court opinion doesn't discuss Zeppelin's liability, but rather looks at the Harry Fox Agency, as an agent for Zeppelin's publisher. The Agency collected licensing royalties for every infringing use, though it argued it was a conduit, not an agent. The court found that agents are obviously liable in tort for tortious actions committed for their principal's behalf, denying Fox's summary judgment because the precise nature of the relationship between the Agency and the infringing publisher was uncertain. Dixon needed time for discovery regarding this issue before any rulings were made. - LSW

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9. Familes of Deceased Band Sue Airliner
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 1980
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Estate of Music Manager(s)
Defendants Private Airline(s)
Other Back-Up Musician(s)
Croce, Jim
Music Manager(s)
Short Description Plaintiffs are heirs of passengers aboard the aircraft that crashed and killed Jim Croce and his whole group, in this opinion specifically his road manager, and a variety of issues are before the court. Of importance, the Circuit Court held that Defendant who owned the aircraft was liable for the driver's negligence, even if hired by a different agency, on the principle of estoppel. Since negligence may have indeed been the cause of the crash, and since Defendants were common carriers, the District Court's decision is affirmed. - LSW

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10. Music Manager Agent for Performer?
Highest Court Court of Common Pleas of New York City and County
Year Ended 1894
Plaintiffs Photograph Engraver(s)
Defendants Music Manager(s)
Other Van Stosch, Miss
Short Description Defendant manager and agent for Miss Van Stosch contracted with Plaintiff to produce 500 photogravures of the musician, and Plaintiff subsequently sued for payment. The court determined Plaintiff must sue him in his capacity as manager for Van Stosch, not as an individual, and ordered a new trial, thus reversing the lower court's holding in favor of Plaintiff. - LSW & SKR

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