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Musician Seeks $100m From Rappers For Copying “Nearly Every Song” In His Catalogue

Date of News: 2013-08-27
Source: bigpondmusic

[Source:] We’ve seen YouTube cover songs targeted by music publishers, a famed prog rock artist sue a filmmaker for rip-off designs, and countless cases by artists having their music ripped off for ads, but few have reached the crazy amount of money in copyright claims as this latest case has.

Popular rap stars like the auto-tune touting T-Pain, the ‘Teflon Don’ Rick Ross, Pitbull, Ace Hood, and DJ Khaled are named in a US$ 100 million lawsuit over the use of illegal samples in their music. The claim, which was filed in a US district court last week, and accuses over 70 tracks of using identical or “strikingly similar” parts of music, comes from Paul Batiste, the leader of a long-running New Orleans jazz band, as The Guardian reports.

Batiste is going all-out in his copyright case, alleging that a long list of rappers and their labels “wrongfully copied nearly every song” from the Batiste Brothers Band and their decades-long back catalogue.

The 118-page long court papers (which you can pore over here via Scribd if you’ve got the itch) list nearly every major hip-hop label and publishing company including majors Universal, Sony/ATV, Def Jam, WB Music and EMI Blackwood. Cash Money Records, home to Lil’ Wayne, WMG impritn Fueled By Ramen, Zomba, and RCA Records are also indicted in the lawsuit.

According to the plaintiff, the list of 39 defendants “have released an immense number of songs infringing upon [Batiste Brothers Band's] catalogue… poach[ing] beats, lyrics, melodies, and chords;” right down to the song titles in some cases, with Batiste’s legal team citing four specific rap songs – ‘Freeze’, ‘Download’, ‘Overtime’, and ‘Boom’ – to “have the same or nearly identical titles to [Batiste]‘s songs, ‘Freeze’, ‘Download My Love’, ‘Overtime’, and ‘Bam There You Have It’ (respectively).”

Batiste is seeking the astronomical amount of $100 million in damages for copyright infringement, a figure reached over the infringing songs being released by artists, publishers, and labels several times over. “Each constitutes an independent act or acts of infringement,” according to the jazz leader’s claim.

Never heard of the Batiste Brothers Band? Well, the 118-page legal document describes them as “legendary” and “founded in 1976 in New Orleans,” while their ringleader, Paul Batiste, is “considered a major influence on the current New Orleans jazz scene and has enjoyed immense success and recognition,” their family linked with groups including the Meters, George Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, Prince, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Unfortunately, much of the Batiste Brothers Band music isn’t available digitally, making it difficult to judge the legitimacy of Batiste’s $100 million claim (or how digital-era rappers got access to it in the first place), but given how detailed Batiste’s claim is – citing 11 examples of infringement in T-Pain’s ‘Freeze’ alone – it’s humorous (or T-painful) to think how much he pored over songs from commercial rappers like Pitbull in putting together his claim.

It’s not the first time the New Orleans jazz group have taken to the courts over unauthorised sampling of their music. Over the past 25 years they’ve settled out of court in litigation cases with PM Dawn, Miller Beer, and the Rebirth Brass Band. ”Lawsuits are not fun,” writes Batiste on his website. “The litigations took a toll and frustrated our efforts to grow in the music industry… They take up all your time and the results are sometimes little, but we had no choice but to claim what is ours.”

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