According to Rolling Stone and New York Daily News, a record label representing deceased R&B artist Eddie Bo filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and his record label for the alleged use of Bo’s 1996 single entitled “Hook & Sling Part 1” without receiving sample clearance/permission.
TufAmerica has a history of filing lawsuits to protect their copyright interests. In 2010, they sued Kanye West and his label for the use of the same song without permission on his record “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” At the time of the filing, TufAmerica claimed that though West’s label paid a licensing fee, they “failed and refused to enter into written license agreements that accounted for their multiple other uses of [‘Hook and Sling’].” TufAmerica has also sued the Beastie Boys and Christina Aguilera.
What does this mean?:
Creators of works of art, in this case lyrics and underline music (beats, arrangements, etc.), have an ownership interest in what they create. This includes rights to control how it is recorded, distributed, performed, reproduced, displayed, etc. (The technical five fundamental rights are the rights of reproduction, adaptation, publication, performances and display.) Most, if not all, songs you hear on the radio, on the internet and on television have been registered with the Library of Congress for copyright protection.
In order to legally and rightfully utilize the work of others, even for purposes of sampling or making what may be considered a derivative work from another song, a record label or artist must negotiate and enter into a licensing agreement with the owners and publishers of the work. This includes paying a licensing fee and possibly a percentage of royalties. TufAmerica is claiming that Jay Z and his label failed to adequately do so regarding the alleged inclusion of “Hook and Sling” within his song “Run This Town” which was produced by Kanye West.
How does this affect you?:
If you are an artist, whether it is music, art, television, etc., it is imperative to protect your work on a national level by filing copyright application for what you created. Additionally, if you are creating work, that is or may be a derivative of a previous work or includes a sample of a work owned by another party, permission is required by way of a license or purchase, and royalties and fees must be paid in order to avoid a lawsuit.
I am certain this matter will be rectified before proceeding to trial.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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