Black Eye Peas

DJ Wins $1Million Against Black Eyed Peas for “Hump” Song- #Clearances

In Music Law by FASHIONENTLAW™

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The lyrics are so juvenile, so “gangster” as in so ridiculously crazy, silly, amusing, and comical depending on who you ask.  The dialogue goes like this:

“Will.I.am asks: What you gon’ do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? Fergie responds: I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump/My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)”

Those two are part of a popular music band called “Black Eyed Peas.”

Well, it turns out all that Will.I.am “love drunk” off Fergie’s video played out “hump” was really bad for the legal health of Black Eyed Peas. I think the excessive repetition of “hump” and “lumps” might have been pointing towards an #epicfail on the legal front.

Folks, too much of everything is bad. It is important to scaaaaaaale back a little.

So what happened? The band did way too much “love drunk” “hump” and “lumps,” “junk in the trunk” talk it irritated Cleveland DJ Orrin Lynn Tolliver, Jr. The DJ was so irritated, he sued . .  . and guess what . . .  the DJ won! “The case went to a jury to determine the damages. On Tuesday, the jury rendered a verdict. McCants owed Tolliver $816,877.28 in profits and $368,704.31 in actual damages for copyright infringement,” reports THR, Esq.

Three legal issues arise here folks. First, copyright infringement. Notice in the story you get to read soon, there is a discussion on the calculation of damages in the suit? Well, I have discussed that in the past with the Mary J. Blige Copyright Infringement suit. So be sure to revisit my discussions here.

The second issue that arises is the issue of clearance. Clearance is not unique to musicians. Fashion and Film professionals, if you will incorporate music in any of your works, you need permission of the copyright holder of that music.

How do you obtain clearance?

1. Engage the services of an entertainment lawyer/law firm to help you

2. Use independent clearance organizations whose sole jobs are to help with clearances

3. Contact Performance rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP

4. Contact Label. Information available online or the CD jackets you purchase

5. Contact US Copyright Office

6. Google

7. Go to Artists Social Media page for information

Either way you look at it, you are probably gonna still the need the services of an attorney in terms of contract negotiations specific to the clearances.

Finally, our third issue is Summary Judgment motion mentioned in the news report. I have also touched on that in the past. I believe we saw that in Beatles lawsuit. Folks revisit that here for a reminder.

Now read the story from THR, Esq’s Eriq Gardner:

“Cleveland disc jockey and early rap artist Orrin Lynn Tolliver, Jr. has just been awarded nearly $1.2 million by a New York jury. The award comes after a former friend and collaborator allowed without permission his 1983 song, “I Need A Freak,” to be sampled by the Black Eyed Peas for the group’s hit song, “My Humps.”

In the early 80s, Tolliver formed a concept band called Sexual Harassment and recorded “I Need A Freak” at his friend and collaborator James McCants’ studio at Heat Records.

McCants registered the song with BMI, credited Tolliver as the songwriter, and agreed to pay him 75% of royalties.

In 2000, the song was included on the compilation, “In Da Beginning…There Was Rap,” from Priority Records, which caused Tolliver to send McCants a cease-and-desist letter. His former friend and collaborator denied issuing a license. . .” THR, Esq. has the full story.

Cheers,

Uduak

Photocredit: Yk2daily.net

Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her firm’s fashion and entertainment law practice areas. Ms. Uduak has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts. She has also handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients including network television and licensing deals. Her work and contributions to the creative industry has been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA: ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also the author of Fashionentlaw™ and also has over two decades combined hands on industry experience in the creative industry which includes modeling, retail, fashion production, public relations, digital media, journalism and publishing. For further inquiries or if you are seeking legal representation, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). You may also follow her on twitter at @uduaklaw

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