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1. Legendary Soul Man Lawsuit
Highest Court M.D. Tennessee
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Family of Artist(s)
Moore, Sam
Trust of Artist(s)
Defendants Concord Music Group
Dimension Films
MGM, Inc.
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description "The Legendary Soul Man Sam Moore," half of the singing duo Sam & Dave, along with his wife and irrevocable trust, which is the beneficiary of his trademarks and other rights, sued Defendant film companies for the production and release of a film called "Soul Men," about a soul-singing duo, which Plaintiff alleged was based on Sam & Dave, who were called "Soul Men" as a result of their well-known hit song, "Soul Man." Defendants' film was released on DVD around the same time as a retrospective of Sam & Dave called "The Original Soul Men Sam & Dave." Moore filed a lengthy complaint, alleging various causes of action relating to publicity and trademarks/unfair competition, arguing Defendants' was passing its film off as a film about Sam & Dave, and that Defendants' were trading on the duo's publicity and likeness. Additionally, Moore sued the music company that owned the music used in the film, alleging their licensing of songs to Defendant for use in the film constituted an act indicating a civil conspiracy. On Defendants' motion to dismiss the passing off and publicity claims, the court applied the "expressive works" doctrine, which holds that, when the subject of a suit involves Defendant's expressive works, trademark-oriented claims are subject to heightened scrutiny. In this case, the doctrine was overcome on a motion to dismiss, because Plaintiffs' and Defendants' products were in direct competition. The court allowed Moore to amend his complaint without leave to specify Concord Music's involvement in the alleged conspiracy . These issues are better left to summary judgment than a motion to dismiss. In an unrelated opinion, the court compelled Plaintiffs to affirm or deny some of Defendants' requests for admission, despite Defendants putting forth over 500 individual requests. - LSW


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2. Songwriter's Royalties in a Bind
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Financial Institution(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Pullman, David
Other Page, Gene
Short Description This lawsuit is one of several over the last few years involving the financial transaction of David Pullman, a somewhat well-known figure in the music industry for his role in creating so-called "Bowie Bonds," named after David Bowie, the artist who first used them. Bowie Bonds are investment vehicles wherein purchasers buy debt from recording artists, to be repaid, with interest, through royalty payments owed to the artist. This lawsuit appears to involve this same sort of transaction regarding the royalty interests of songwriter Gene Page. Page's family took loans from Plaintiff, a financial company that loans money to artists to be repaid from royalties, but was also involved, to some extent, with Pullman and his entities. Pullman's parties offered to investigate some suspect financial transactions between Plaintiff and Page's family, including a loan to a family member of Plaintiff's owners, and Plaintiff assigned to Pullman the rights to do so. After Pullman brought suit against Plaintiffs for numerous causes of action, including conversion, fraud, interference, civil conspiracy, and numerous equitable actions not specifically listed in this entry, Plaintiff sought to enforce an arbitration agreement contained in one, and only one, of the many loan agreements between Plaintiff and the Pages. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) found the arbitration agreement enforceable, and the parties submitted to arbitration, which ended in Pullman/Page's favor for over $1/2 million. This lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff to vacate the arbitration award, alleging no court of law ever found the agreement binding. Though the AAA had upheld the provision, the court agreed and concluded that no court of law had upheld it, and thus the arbitration was not binding. If a party objects to arbitration, the resulting award cannot be binding absent a judicial determination. The award was vacated, and a court must now determine whether arbitration is mandatory. - LSW


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3. Mike Love's Long Fight With Brian
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Newspaper Publisher(s)
Sanctuary Management
Sanctuary Records
Website Proprietor(s)
Wilson, Brian
Other Beach Boys
Short Description Mike Love sued Brian Wilson after Wilson released a successful album in 2004, Smile, with solo versions of Beach Boys songs and new solo material. Wilson went on tour in Great Britain, among other places, to promote his new album. Part of the promotion for Wilson's album and tour was a CD distributed by the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday containing some of his new material. Only 425 of those CDs were distributed in the U.S., and only 18 of those were distributed in California. Meanwhile, Love was touring on his own as The Beach Boys in Great Britain. Love was concerned that Wilson's tour would dampen his ticket sales and brought the present lawsuit. The court entered judgment for Wilson, holding that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over the British company that licensed and recorded the CD. The court also declined to apply the Lanham Act extraterritorially to encompass acts solely committed in Great Britain. [early suits are all jurisdiction, but later suits each address different issues] - SKR


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4. Bonkers Plaintiff vs. Beyonce
Highest Court District of Columbia Circuit
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Mentally Unstable Individual(s)
Defendants Beyonc?
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Jay-Z
Lil' Wayne
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Wacko Plaintiff claimed to be Beyonce, as well as the wife of Lil' Wayne and Jay-Z (purportedly the same person), and argued that he (a.k.a. Lil' Wayne/Jay-Z) conspired to steal her creative thoughts, lyrics, and dance moves. Plaintiff literally sued for $1 trillion in damages. The court, surprisingly, threw out Plaintiff's claim, although the court was mindful that Plaintiff was a pro se litigant that could not find a lawyer willing to take her $1 trillion case. - LSW & SKR


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5. Yngwie's Manager Embezzled?
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Malmsteen, Yngwie
Defendants Music Manager(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Yngwie Malmsteen, despite having the least pronounceable first name in the history of guitar virtuosos, rose to fame during the 1980s "hair metal" explosion. Malmsteen sued his ex-managers for numerous causes of action, including malpractice, fraud, contract breach, breach of fiduciary duties, and sought numerous equitable remedies. After the trial court and jury found for Malmsteen, in the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars the appellate courts affirmed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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6. Leonard Cohen's Financial Debacle
Highest Court D. Colorado
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Financial Professional(s)
Financial Professional(s)
Investor(s)
Defendants Cohen, Leonard
Music Manager(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Cohen entrusted personal funds to another individual, who appears to have depleted the funds. Cohen sued the investment managers, alleging they did not alert him of the status of his funds. Judgment for investors, who had complied with the contract. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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7. Jonathan Lee Riches' Craziness (V)
Highest Court D. South Carolina
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Riches, Jonathan Lee
Defendants Artist(s)
Assorted Celebrities
Other Pussycat Dolls
Short Description Plaintiff is, once again, Jonathan Lee Riches, infamous incarcerated litigant, who sued Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, along with Somali Pirates, a professional football coach, food network star, and others, alleging they violated his Civil Rights according to U.S. Section 1983. Among Plaintiff's allegations are that Scherzinger built the prison and sings into the vents, that Coldplay made his pillow, that he is forced to eat pork, and others. Obviously, dismissed. - LSW


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8. Rod Stewart Cancels Another Gig
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Lawyer(s)
Music Manager(s)
Stewart, Rod
Talent Agent(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A concert promoter and several sub-promoters sued the raspily crooning Brit, sex symbol Rod Stewart, alleging he'd breached their contracts for an upcoming tour, demanding return of the $780,000 advance they gave him. In response, Stewart sued for for $2.1 million, which he would have received if the tour went along as planned. At trial, the jury found for Plaintiffs under negligent misprepresentation theories, but--in a conflicted opinion-- also held both 1) the parties never entered binding contracts for the tours, and 2) some Defendants interfered with Plaintiff's contracts with Stewart for the tours and owed $1.6 million. On review, the appellate court held that negotiations broke down before any formal contracts had been formed, and thus the interference claims must be reversed, but that Plaintiffs' successful verdicts for unjust enrichment and negligent misprepresentation were correct, and, further, Plaintiffs were owed around $500,000 in attorneys fees for litigating Stewart's pointless counterclaims. While no contracts were formed, Stewart's camp had made false representations and refused to return the deposit given according to those representations. - LSW


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9. Jonathan Lee Riches' Craziness (III)
Highest Court N.D. Florida
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Riches, Jonathan Lee
Defendants Assorted Celebrities
Underwood, Carrie
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff, who has sued other celebrities for hilarious schemes, is obviously mentally ill, and here alleged an incredible conspiracy between Carrie Underwood, Ryan Seachrest, and O.J. Simpson to rig "American Idol" in Underwood's favor, and then to kill Plaintiff to prevent him from exposing their plot. Dismissed. - LSW


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10. Biz Markie's Sampling Problem (IV)
Highest Court E.D. Pennsylvania
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Record Label(s)
Songwriter(s)
Defendants Biz Markie
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Tommy Boy Records
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Biz Markie was sued for illegally sampling a bass drum and a "reggae rap" from the Plaintiff's song "Bounce." The court denied Biz Markie's motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute, as the court held Plaintiff to a more relaxed standard as a pro se litigant. The court allowed the case to go forward with discovery. - SKR


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11. Dre, Storch, Xzibit Sued for Copying (II)
Highest Court Third Circuit
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Aftermath Entertainment
Dr. Dre
Individual(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Sony Music
Storch, Scott
Tuff Jew Productions
Xzibit
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff is a hip-hop beat producer, who created a drum track and gave it to record producer Scott Storch, with the hopes Storch would show it to Dre, with further hopes Dre would like it an incorporate it into a song, with further hopes the song would become a bit. Sounds pretty unlikely. Oddly, that's exactly what happened. But once the song was used in Xzibit's song "X," Plaintiff realized he wasn't making any money from the song. After being told by the federal court he had no claim for infringement, since his arrangement with Storch clearly constituted an implied license ("Dre, Storch, Xzibit Sued for Copying (I)"), he tried his hand in state court. Unfortunately, most Defendants (like Dre, Xzibit, Aftermath, and others) had insufficient contacts with Pennsylvania, which seems to have pretty strict personal jurisdiction standards. Regarding Sony, however, the same facts that defeated his federal claim won the day here: he had no claim for conversion, since he'd given permission, and conspiracy charges likewise failed. Plaintiff's beat was pretty hot too, so it's a shame he never got the credit. - LSW


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12. Songwriter vs. Swizz Beats and Eve
Highest Court N.D. Georgia
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Music Producer(s)
Defendants Dreamworks Records
Eve
Interscope Records
Music Publisher(s)
Ruff Ryders Entertainment
Swizz Beats
Talent Agent(s)
Universal Music Group
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff gave a compilation demo tape to Defendant record producer, and subsequently heard songs on the radio that he believed to be substantially similar to his own. Defendant sued Swizz Beats, Eve, Rough Ryders Entertainment, and numerous others. As is common with "demo tape plaintiffs," the court rendered judgment for Defendants. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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13. Ripples & Waves vs. Jackson 5
Highest Court S.D. Indiana
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Ripples and Waves
Defendants Individual(s)
Jackson 5/The Jacksons
Jackson, Michael
Motown Records
Universal Music Group
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The Jackson 5 were sued by members of a former Gary-Chicago-area group called Ripples and Waves after the 5 named a retrospective "Ripples and Waves," in which they claimed in liner notes to have been named 'Ripples and Waves' in their early days. The court held that, while such misidentifications can indeed form the basis for trademark claims, the circumstances of this case militate against such a finding. It would be ridiculous to say that using the name as an album title, even combined with the incorrect identification in the booklet, could have any negative impact on a local group defunct for over fifteen years as of this trial. Personal jurisdiction was denied as to Michael Jackson, and Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against the remaining parties was granted; however, Plaintiff was given an opportunity to cure its complaint to state a valid cause of action (though not against Michael). - LSW


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14. Paramedic Hurt By Durst's Goading
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Michigan
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Medical Professional(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Limp Bizkit
Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Security Service(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In a somewhat awkward decision (in our opinion) the Michigan court of appeals held Limp Bizkit owed no duty to a paramedic who'd been intentionally kicked in the head by one of Bizkit's fans, after lead singer Fred What's-His-Name invited audience members on stage during the performance. Relying on previous decisions relating to mosh pits at heavy metal concerts (see "Rock Fans Hurt by "Sod-Throwing"), the court held the band had no duty to anticipate the intentional acts of third parties. Interestingly, Bizkit was well known for inciting riots, particularly at Woodstock '99, when their song "Break Stuff" purportedly caused the melee that likely put an end to further entries in the "Woodstock" franchise. The court here held that Bizkit's duty (as with the promoters/proprietors/etc.) is limited to expediting their response to such activities, not preventing them. Judgment for Defendants, unfortunately. - LSW


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15. Who Owns Manson Concert?
Highest Court C.D. California
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Eagle Rock Entertainment
Marilyn Manson
Defendants Film Distributor(s)
Film Producer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Copyright dispute over who owns the rights to a Manson performance aired on Pay-Per-View, intended for DVD release. Judgment for Manson. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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16. Outkast Offends Rosa Parks (II)
Highest Court E.D. Michigan
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Parks, Rosa
Defendants Borders Group, Inc.
Individual(s)
Music Producer(s)
Music Retailer(s)
Video Producer(s)
Other Outkast
Short Description Related case to "Outkast Offends Rosa Parks (I)," Parks appears to have sued some other people who had almost nothing to do with the song, and the case was dismissed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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17. Rap Manager Defamed By Promoter
Highest Court Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants Clear Channel
Individual(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Radio Station(s)
Other Prophets of the Ghetto
Spellbound
Short Description Many independent promoters, managers, agents, and lawyers have discovered that the music business is tightly controlled by those who've already somehow earned credibility and influence in the industry. Plaintiffs were an individual music manager and the company he controlled, through which he managed small-time hip-hop acts called Prophets of the Ghetto and Spellbound, alleging various causes of action against music promoters, radio stations, and others involved in the organization and advertising for shows denied to Plaintiff's artists. After Plaintiff entered negotiations for his artists to open for Public Enemy at a local theater, Defendants requests a guarantee that the artists would sell 500 tickets at $20 each, or $10,000 worth of tickets. When Plaintiff accused Defendants of stifling local artists through such claims (which are, indeed, ridiculous), Defendants cancelled the contracts. Furthermore, Defendants chastised Plaintiff's business acumen while apparently on speaker phone, thus alerting an entire room to Plaintiff's purported deficiencies. Plaintiff sued for various causes of action, including privacy, defamation, interference with contractual relations, et. al. The Court of Common Please of Pennsylvania denied Plaintiff's actions, dismissing each complaint. Plaintiff was unable to show defamatory remarks (Defendants insults were opinions) and, more importantly, was unable to show damages resulting from Defendants' various activities. Prophets of the Ghetto and Spellbound left Plaintiff's roster, but that is more likely a product of their rational decision-making than Defendants' interference. Judgment for Defendants on all counts. - LSW


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18. Problems Distributing Bowie
Highest Court Seventh Circuit
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Record Label(s)
Defendants Defries, Tony
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Rykodisc Records
Other Bowie, David
Short Description Plaintiff is a music company that purchased interests in David Bowie recordings. The purchase included a prior-existing a cause of action against Defendants. Plaintiff's predecessor's allegedly received a license from Defendants to distribute the Bowie tunes in question, but Defendants repudiated the deal and sought to prevent Plaintiff from exploiting their rights under the agreement. Though most of Plaintiff's causes of action were disposed of summarily by the court, the claim for breach of contract was allowed to proceed, despite Plaintiff's "tardy" service of process. However, even after allowing the contract claim to proceed, Plaintiff failed to prosecute the case, and it was once again dismissed. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit reconsidered the dismissal, but affirmed, finding diversity jurisdiction existed and the court had the right to re-evaluate Plaintiff's argument for its delayed prosecution. Unfortunately, "my lawyer was depressed" is a bad excuse. - LSW


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19. Chi-Lites vs. Purported Theifs
Highest Court D. Nevada
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Polygram Records
Universal Music Group
Other Chi-Lites
Short Description Plaintiff is apparently the publisher with rights to songs by the Chi-Lites, specifically the song "Message to the World," here suing the Chi-Lites' record label and others, alleging not just copyright infringement and breach of contract, but "theft by deception" as well. Unfortunately, "theft by deception" is not an existing tort, and is thus dismissed. The other causes of action will proceed to trial. - LSW


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20. Kurupt's Ex-Managers Want Dough
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Music Producer(s)
Defendants Death Row Records
Dr. Dre
Knight, Suge
Kurupt the Kingpen
Music Manager(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Snoop Dogg
Other Daz Dillinger
Tha Dogg Pound
Short Description The former manager/producer for rap artist Kurupt the Kingpen sued the artist and his label after not receiving compensation for career support he'd provided. The jury returned an award for Plaintiff for over $14 million, but the court reduced it to $5 million, which the appellate court affirmed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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