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1. 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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2. Hagar's Taco Business Bumbles
Highest Court N.D. California
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Restaurant Proprietor(s)
Other Hagar, Sammy
Short Description Red Head, Inc. licensed Rock Hard Taco to use the name and likeness of Sammy Hagar in connection with their Taco restaurant, Cabo Wabo Cantina. When Defendant's restaurant failed to live up to Plaintiff's expectations, Defendant was notified of the breach and told to cease using trademarks. The court granted Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, requiring Defendants to change their menus so as not to associate itself with Sammy Hagar or anything evincing his likeness. The court granted Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction--there was a likelihood of success on the merits and imminent injury to Hagar's reputation if Defendants continued--but refused Plaintiff's request to attach Defendant's property by court order, saying there was no reason to assume Defendant would be unable to follow through on its financial obligations. - LSW


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3. Counterfeit Metal, Mode, and Moz Merch
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Bravado International
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Individual(s)
Website Proprietor(s)
Other Clash
Cradle of Filth
Depeche Mode
Guns n' Roses
Iron Maiden
Korn
Led Zeppelin
Morrissey
Motörhead
Short Description The Defendants are some businesses and people who were illegally creating t-shirts infringing on Korn, Iron Maiden, Guns 'N' Roses, and Depeche Mode. The Plaintiffs, who hold the licenses for merchandising in the U.S. for many bands, filed for a preliminary injunction, which the court granted. In 2004, the Plaintiffs had filed a suit in California against t-shirt bootleggers and learned that these defendants were the manufacturers, obtaining a judgment against them in 2005. In 2008, the Plaintiffs purchased bootleg shirts from the Defendants' website. The U.S. Marshals seized silk screens, t-shirts, and business records. The Plaintiffs can obtain a preliminary injunction if they can show irreparable harm and either a likelihood of success or a balance of hardships and a chance at successful litigation. To win at the trademark infringement, they had to show a protected trademark and that consumers would be confused by the Defendants' knockoffs. The Court found there to be little question that counterfeit products, by their nature, cause confusion to consumers. - JMC


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4. Hendrix Family Can't Get Along (I)
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Authentic Hendrix
Experience Hendrix
Defendants Family of Artist(s)
Individual(s)
Nonprofit Organization(s)
Other Hendrix, Jimi
Short Description Jimi Hendrix's estate and licensee sued a nonprofit foundation named after Jimi and run by Hendrix's brother Leon, who appears to have been excluded from much of the family's business over the years, alleging Leon's entity violated Jimi's publicity rights and contravened the terms of an earlier settlement between the two entities. The agreement barred Leon from using Jimi's public reputation for commercial purposes, but did not elaborate whether the name could be exploited for charitable/nonprofit purposes. The estate brought suit after Leon's organization advertised an auction of the radio. Leon's foundation countersued. Both parties' claims were dismissed by the court, but Defendants were held to be the "prevailing party," according to Washington's relevant right of publicity statute, and were granted attorneys fees for over $50,000. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, saying New York law in 1970 determined which rights were transferred to Hendrix's estate at death. Since posthumous publicity rights did not exist in N.Y. at the time of Jimi's death, no publicity rights could be enforced now. The appellate court affirmed the grant of attorneys' fees according to the Washington publicity statute, though it was N.Y. that determined Defendants' were not liable. - LSW


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5. Hendrix Company Demands Payment
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Experience Hendrix
Defendants Auctioneer(s)
Chalpin, Ed
PPX Enterprises
Other Hendrix, Jimi
Short Description PPX Enterprises, run by Ed Chalpin (a common figure in Hendrix-family litigation), was the owner of copyrights in 33 Hendrix compositions and sought to sell them at an upcoming auction. The relationship with Chalpin dates back to the mid-1960s, when Hendrix signed with Chalpin's PPX record label. When Hendrix switched to another label, Chalpin was given rights to numerous Hendrix recordings by a settlement in 1968 (see "Jimi's Record Label Sues Capitol"). In the early 1970s, PPX and Chalpin were sued by Hendrix's Estate in England for royalties owed from these songs, which was found in the estate's favor. Plaintiffs had difficulty collecting this amount, and a new judgment was entered in England in the early 2000s. When the Hendrixes sought to enforce the judgment domestically, Defendant was found liable for nearly $1 million to Plaintiffs, but Defendant conveyed the copyrights to a third party company (also controlled by Chalpin) for a single dollar, which put the songs up for auction. The estate sought a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and an order of attachment to proceeds, hoping to prevent sale of the copyrighted compositions by the new Chalpin company at the upcoming auction. While the court granted a limited restraining order, it also ordered the auctioneer to pay Plaintiff the amount owed from the upcoming auction. The court found Defendants' transfer was fraudulent and found Defendants were, once again, evading payment. Since Plaintiff's success was likely and irreparable harm was imminent, the court converted the restraining order into preliminary injunction and ordered an attachment of the money obtained via the auction in an amount equal to the outstanding judgment which Plaintiff was already owed. - LSW


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6. Britney's Creepy Japanese Stalker
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Spears, Britney
Defendants Individual(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Britney Spears acquired a Japanese stalker in 2002. After having a restraining order filed, the stalker contacted Spears' attorney in 2003 to renegotiate the order. Spears also though she was being followed by the stalker. He tried to force her to be deposed which she argued was purely for harassment sake. The stalker admitted to following her around the US and showing up at many of her homes, leaving her objects and letters. Eventually, he was denied re-entry to the US in late 2002. At the hearing for the petition, a police officer testified to the stalker's admissions concerning his obsession, and Spears' produced other documents and declarations from the stalker. The court granted the injunction, and on appeal the court affirmed the grant, finding that the stalker had violated the original restraining order. - JMC


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7. Eminem vs. The Source
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Eminem
Shady Records
Defendants Benzino
Magazine Publisher(s)
Mays, David
Source Magazine
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Eminem, his publishing company, and record label, sued Source magazine for copyright infringement when the magazine company posted Em's songs with lyrics on their website. The Source counterclaimed, but judgment was for Shady. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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8. Counterfeit Toby Keith Merch
Highest Court E.D. Kentucky
Year Ended 2002
Plaintiffs Keith, Toby
Music Merchandiser(s)
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description After losing money to bootleggers selling outside his concerts, Toby Keith was granted a preliminary injunction against the entire United States, preventing everyone from selling merchandise with his likeness. Take that, everyone! - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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9. Jonnie Taylor Concert Film Causes Lawsuit
Highest Court N.D. Texas
Year Ended 2002
Plaintiffs Malaco Records
Defendants Film Distributor(s)
Film Producer(s)
Other Taylor, Johnnie
Short Description Plaintiff is the exclusive licensee of Johnnie Taylor's recordings, including any videos made, and Defendant is an outside film company that allegedly contracted with Taylor to film his performances, but the parties themselves never reached an agreement regarding the film. Defendant, without Plaintiff's permission, marketed and distributed the film, "Johnnie Taylor Live at the Longhorn Ballroom," and Plaintiff sued. The court found blatant copyright infringement and irreparable harm, and thus granted Plaintiff's request for an injunction. - LSW


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10. Temptations Documentary Offensive?
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2001
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Former Band Member(s)
Defendants Former Band Member(s)
Hallmark Entertainment
Individual(s)
NBC, Inc.
Television Producer(s)
Other Temptations
Short Description The Temptations were a popular doo-wop and vocal act throughout much of the mid-twentieth century and into the end of the century, and managed to maintain an aura of public appeal long after their run of chart-topping songs ran out. In this lawsuit, family members of member David Ruffin sued various entities involved in the production of Temptations television special, as told by another member, Otis Williams. Alleging about as many claims as is possible, Plaintiffs sought relief under privacy, publicity, tort, defamation, breach, et. al., all of which the court found were blocked by the First Amendment and Williams' right to tell his life story as he legitimately perceives it to have occurred. While one party's defamation claim was not dismissed at the trial level, but the time the case reached the Court of Appeals, all relevant causes of action, dismissed below, were held insufficient. - LSW


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11. Phish Deny Personal Jurisdiction?
Highest Court N.D. California
Year Ended 2001
Plaintiffs Phish
Defendants Individual(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description *Not enough information to classify. (I couldn't find any info on the actual facts of the case; would suggest deleting - SKR)*


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12. NBA vs. Cam'ron
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs National Basketball Association (NBA)
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Vibe Magazine
Other Cam'ron
Short Description Cam'ron's new album was set to be called, "SDE (Sports, Drugs, & Entertainment)," and his advertisements were set to feature an NBA-like logo. But in addition to the usual dribbling basketball--jiving well with the album's title-- Cam'ron put a gun in the other hand. When Vibe magazine included an advertisement featuring the obviously-infringing design, NBA sued not just Cam'ron's record label, but the magazine as well. On a motion for a preliminary injunction, the court held that the advertisement certainly diluted NBA's logo (and thus the league itself) and infringed the logo mark. The court granted a preliminary injunction regarding magazines containing the ad that hadn't yet been distributed, but refused to order a recall of those presently out at market. - LSW


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13. No Beatles Stamps Without Permission
Highest Court D. New Jersey
Year Ended 1998
Plaintiffs Apple Corps
Estate of Artist(s)
Ono, Yoko
Subafilms
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other Beatles
Lennon, John
Short Description Defendant produced postage stamps bearing images of the Beatles, without any authorization from Plaintiff, the legal representative of the Beatles. Plaintiff successfully sued Defendant for contempt for violation of a consent order, and subsequently sought attorneys' fees and costs. The court entered judgment for the Plaintiffs, awarding attorneys' fees and costs. - LSW & SKR


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14. Drifters Manager vs. Ex-Member (IV)
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 1998
Plaintiffs Marshak, Larry
Defendants Former Band Member(s)
Other Drifters
Short Description Plaintiff is a repeat litigant, Larry Marshak, one-time road manager for the 1950s and 60s singing group The Drifters, who was purportedly granted rights to the band's name by members of the band during the 1970s, long after their radio presence had ceased. Marshak's ownership over the name was contested by the family of the original manager, one George Treadwell, but it seems two different bands existed side by side, Treadwell's in the U.K. and Marshak's in the U.S. (In fact, the 1950s and 1960s versions of the bands were also entirely different, the later--formed by Treadwell--recorded the hit "This Magic Moment.") In the years since the mid-1970s assignment to Marshak, his registered trademark became inconstestable. In this suit, only one among many, some resulting in different outcomes than that here, Marshak sued Charlie Thomas, a one-time member among the group that originally asigned the name to Marshak. When Thomas began performing under the Drifters' name, Marshak sued for trademark infringement, and the court granted his motion for a preliminary injunction, finding a likelihood of confusion and irreparable harm, and requiring Thomas to use the name "Charlie Thomas formerly of The Drifters," but not "The Drifters" or even "The Charlie Thomas Drifters." Ironically, Thomas is a member of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Drifters, but not Marshak. This opinion contains an elaborate history of the multitudinous lawsuits Marshak brought against various parties over the years to prevent them from using the name. - LSW


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15. 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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16. Poison-Baywatch Sex Tape Debacle
Highest Court C.D. California
Year Ended 1998
Plaintiffs Anderson, Pamela
Michaels, Bret
Defendants Individual(s)
Television Producer(s)
Website Proprietor(s)
Other Poison
Short Description Bret Michaels and Pam Anderson filmed a good old-fashioned sex tape, which later popped up on a good old-fashioned porn website. Bret Michaels successfully received a temporary order restraining the production and advertisement of the sex tape, which Defendants alleged had been authorized by Michaels' "agent," or at least someone purporting to be an agent. In a lengthy opinion, the court granted Michaels' motion for a preliminary injunction, finding he was likely to be successful on his claims for copyright infringement (Defendant had not shown it received an implied license and "Fair Use" was irrelevant), violations of rights of publicity and privacy (even "sex symbols" have a right to "privacy" when they choose to have it, and "newsworthiness" defenses were unavailing, but cautioned injunctive relief should be crafted so as to avoid limiting speech. In an interesting case for comparison, Pam followed with her own suit, this time against news outlets that aired stories on the website featuring the video; her suits were dismissed. Here, fair use and newsworthiness were sufficient to overcome her interests in her likeness and privacy. - LSW


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17. Songwriter Ditches Manager
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Texas
Year Ended 1997
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Music Producer(s)
Record Label(s)
Defendants Chinwah, Madukwu
Other Badu, Eryka
Short Description Madukwu Chinwah is a songwriter, artist, and producer (for Erykah Badu, among others), who signed several management, production and recording agreements with Defendant Jones. The relationship later fell apart, both asserting the other had breached the contract first. Chinwah then failed to appear at shows arranged by Plaintiff and refused to return equipment Jones used to record Chinwah's song. When Erykah Badu's album was released with Chinwah's songs, and was a big success, Jones attempted to assert his rights under the former agreement, and Chinwah sued for a declaratory judgment that the contract was no longer enforceable, requesting a temporary restraining order awaiting a trial on the merits. The trial court allowed a temporary restraining order, preventing Jones from attempting to enforce his prior contractual rights, but the appellate court dissolved the order, saying this would disturb the "status quo"; the lower court had abused its discretion. - LSW


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18. Karaoke Needs Stones License
Highest Court Second Circuit
Year Ended 1996
Plaintiffs ABKCO Music
ABKCO Records
Defendants Karaoke Manufacturer(s)
Other Rolling Stones
Short Description In the world of copyrights, which have (quite obviously) been contentious subjects as of late, it is sometimes difficult to understand which rights have been violated through which activities. In this case, Defendant manufactured and sold "CD-plus-video" programs, containing reproductions of famous Rolling Stones songs accompanied by lyrics, to be used for home karaoke. Defendant only obtained compulsory "mechanical" licenses, which cover the reproduction of musical compositions through mechanical means, e.g., CDs and records. Plaintiff sued, saying Defendant needed to obtain "synchronization" licenses, which covers the use of songs in audiovisual works, and, further, that neither license would grant Defendant permission to re-print the lyrics as video. The court sided with the Stones' publisher, Plaintiff, saying the Audio Home Recording act of 1992 clearly differentiated between visual and aural reproductions, and Defendants' use was audiovisual, thus requiring synchronization permissions. Further, Plaintiff had properly shown a likelihood of irreparable harm, thus warranting a preliminary injunction preventing Defendants from further distributing their products. - LSW


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19. Really, Really Ticked Photographer Keeps Suing (II)
Highest Court Supreme Court of Rhode Island
Year Ended 1995
Plaintiffs Photographer(s)
Defendants Lawyer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff, a freelance rock photographer, sued the attorney who represented him in a separate federal court action involving his lawsuit against a civic center and concert promoters for not letting him take photographs at a concert. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that his lawyer conspired with opposing counsel to sabotage his case. The court dismissed Plaintiff's case and denied the lawyer's petition for writ of certiorari. - SKR


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20. Wacko Sues Pretenders, Harvard & More
Highest Court E.D. Pennsylvania
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Mentally Unstable Individual(s)
Defendants Educational Institution(s)
Individual(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Pretenders
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description This plaintiff somehow managed to waste 12 pages of official court reporters, and all he had to do was sue everyone he could think of and fit on one cocktail napkin. Suing Harvard, the Pretenders (Chrissie Hynde is alleged to be his wife, though she doesn't do her part), the U.S. President, the entire population of England, and others, Plaintiff argued the various Defendants wronged him in various ways. Not only is his suit frivolous, but the court found a permanent injunction appropriate, preventing Plaintiff from re-filing this (or similar) allegations against the parties. - LSW


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