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1. Bodyguard: "I'm R. Kelly's Mentor!"
Highest Court N.D. Illinois
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Kelly, R.
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The former security guard for R. Kelly claimed to have been more than hired muscle, but also a close friend and "mentor," who advised Kelly to learn a dance style known as "steppin,'" taught Kelly how to do the move, and helped Kelly write the song, "Step in the Name of Love." Plaintiff argued he'd offered his assistance and talents at a time when Kelly's public reputation was suffering, and, after the song and dance were released, Kelly's career was revitalized. Plantiff alleged Kelly promised him half the proceeds, and sued R. for breach of oral contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, and even assault. Kelly removed the case to federal court, saying Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claims were simply disguised copyright actions, and the court agreed. Misappropriation of Plaintiff's song and dance is either infringement or an argument for joint authorship, both falling within copyright's ambit, and does not contain the "extra element" necessary to remove it from exclusive federal jurisdiction. While the fraud, contract, and assault claims may stand, they will be tried in federal court as well. - LSW


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2. Kid Rock's 1st Producer: "Breach!" (II)
Highest Court E.D. Michigan
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Music Producer(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Atlantic Records
Kid Rock
Top Dog Records
Warner-Tamerlane Music
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff alleged that Kid Rock violated RICO laws for taking part in an illegal extortion scheme by laundering and exploiting his intellectual property. Specifically, the alleged illegal extortion scheme consisted of Kid Rock's successful defense of Plaintiff's previous trademark claim regarding the "Top Dog" trademark used by Kid Rock for his record label. Despite Kid Rock's having successfully demonstrated his ownership of the "Top Dog" trademark in previous litigation, Plaintiff effectively tried to pursue his claim once again, but under RICO laws. The court was not pleased with this, and granted Kid Rock's motion for summary judgment and for sanctions against Plaintiff. - SKR


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3. Kid Rock's 1st Producer: "Breach!" (I)
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Music Producer(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Defendants Kid Rock
Top Dog Records
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description This lawsuit was filed by Kid Rock's original manager in 1999, ten years after the two parties entered management, publishing, and various other contracts during the much-less-successful early years of Rock's career. Rock openly rejected the contracts the same year, asserting that Rock, not Plaintiff, owned the Top Dog record label and Rock's copyrights. Here, Plaintiff brought various tort, contract, and fiduciary duty claims, alleging Rock's subsequent transfer of the same compositions to Zomba violated Plaintiff's rights. Regarding these claims, the court held them preempted by the Copyright Act; the issue was really whether Rock infringed Plaintiff's copyrights, and no meaningful "extra element" existed outside basic infringement. As such, the claims were barred by copyright's three year statute of limitations. State claims were barred by their six-year limitations, and Plaintiff's trademark claims regarding the "Top Dog" mark, whether federal or state, were defeated by Plaintiff's utter abandonment following Rock's repudiation, having made no effort to enforce Plaintiff's alleged ownership over the past 10 years. See also "Kid Rock's 1st Producer: 'Breach!' (II)," for the follow-up suit to this entry. - LSW


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4. O'Jays Kicked Off Airplane
Highest Court E.D. Wisconsin
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Commercial Airliner(s)
Other O'Jays
Short Description Two members of the O'Jays were boarding a flight arranged by Defendant airliner, when Walter Williams, one of the two, was accused by a flight attendant of "staring at her," which made her uncomfortable, at which point they were removed from the flight. In their complaint against the airline company, they alleged numerous state law claims, such as harassment and consumer torts, but Defendants sought to remove the case to federal court on the grounds of preemption by the Airline Deregulation Act and/or the Federal Aviation Act. While the District Court initially held their actions were not preempted, and thus Defendant's removal was inappropriate, it later decided Plaintiffs actions, even if not preempted, nevertheless stated cognizable federal claims, such as Civil Rights actions regarding discrimination, and moreover were preempted anyway. Further conferences were scheduled to determine the remainder of the litigation, - LSW


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5. Hank Sr.'s Litigitous, Illegitimate Child (III)
Highest Court Second Circuit
Year Ended 1992
Plaintiffs Child of Artist(s)
Defendants Acuff, Roy
Acuff-Rose Music
Chappell Music
Fred Rose Music
Music Publisher(s)
Rose, Wesley
Spouse of Artist(s)
Williams, Hank (Jr.)
Other Williams, Hank (Sr.)
Short Description The illegitimate daughter of Williams sued to be included in Williams' estate, after not being told most of her life who her real father was. The District Court dismissed the case, saying it was barred by laches, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. But in re-hearing, the appellate court reversed and remanded to the District Court. who dismissed the case. The appellate court found Plaintiff was entitled renewal rights to copyrights. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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6. Extent of Licences Hoyt Granted
Highest Court D. Massachusetts
Year Ended 1897
Plaintiffs Hoyt, Charles H.
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Other Harlan, Otis
Short Description Plaintiff Playwright and theatrical manager commissioned Richard Stahl to write the song "Sweet Daisy Stokes for a play, and licensed Defendants to publish the music and lyrics for a 5-cent royalty. When Plaintiff sought to have the lyrics to the song published in media for advertising purposes, Defendants sued for copyright infringement, arguing that they had registered the copyright for the composition without Plaintiff's knowledge. Initially a contract case, this case was moved to federal court based upon copyright jurisdiction, but was remanded. According to the federal opinion, the issue of whether the initial interaction between the parties classified as an assignment of Plaintiff's copyright was an issue of contract interpretation, and should be the province of state courts. In such a case, judgment should be for Plaintiff, with costs taxed to Defendant for the removal. - LSW & SKR


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