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According The Hollywood Reporter, Rick Ross and Jermaine Jackson have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against pop group LMFAO, Kobalt Music Publishing and Kia Motors America based upon an alleged illegal use of the phrase, “Everyday I’m Shufflin” in their 2010 hit song “Party Rock Anthem,” which is believed to have been derived from the 2006 Rick Ross anthem, “Hustlin.”

Based upon the lawsuit filed in Florida federal court, “The use of ‘Hustlin’ in ‘Party Rock Anthem’, is readily apparent, despite the slight change from ‘Everyday I’m hustlin’….to ‘Everyday I’m shufflin’….’and constitutes, inter alia, the creation of an unauthorized derivative work.”

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What Does This Mean?:

Creators of works of art, in this case lyrics, have an ownership interest in what they create. This includes rights to control how it is recorded, distributed, performed, reproduced (i.e. – including prepare derivative works/adaptation), 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.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a derivative work is a work based on or derived from one or more already existing works. Common derivative works include translations, musical arrangements, motion picture versions of literary material or plays, art reproductions, abridgments, and condensations of preexisting works. Another common type of derivative work is a “new edition” of a preexisting work in which the editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications represent, as a whole, an original work.

The plaintiffs, who are represented by attorneys from Gray Robinson, PA, are alleging that LMFAO failed to obtain a license or permission to utilize the “Everyday I’m Shufflin” phrase and further allege that the phrase is “performed in a manner to sound like” Ross’ own, and “is an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of Hustlin’”.

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.

Also, it is imperative that you do not ignore correspondence from a party alleging wrong doing. Failure to respond may end in an injunction (i.e. – a stop) to further sales of the alleged infringing music, along with payment of statutory damages to the wronged party.

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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