It’s sad to see any band fracture, feud, and get litigious but doubly so when it’s a band beloved for their anti-establishment, punk ethos. Pitchfork has the details today on the latest in the Black Flag saga. In recent years, Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, and Bill Stevenson have been performing as FLAG, along with Stevenson’s Descendants bandmate Stephen Egerton on guitar. This did not sit well with Black Flag and SST Records founder Greg Ginn, particularly FLAG’s use of the famous Black Flag logo.
In the recent decision, Ginn and SST retain ownership of the name and logo. Ginn will likely continue with his iteration of Black Flag, which released the uneven What The… last year, among his myriad other projects. FLAG will seemingly continue as FLAG, but without the logo.
For years now, Freeway Rick Ross, the real life drug dealer upon whom rapper Rick Ross bases his stage persona and kingpin image, has been trying to nail Ross (the latter) for making millions by selling his music under an appropriated drug lord persona. Last week, a California judge dismissed Freeway Rick’s most recent appeal, citing the rapper’s creation of original works that only used the name as a jumping-off point. Freeway Rick was not amused.
In a statement issued following the judge’s rejection of his appeal, the real Freeway Rick Ross remarked: “There is a teachable moment about the state of our community when a man who has a respectable job as a correctional officer, has to recreate himself in my former image as a large-scale kingpin to gain what he feels is social acceptance as a successful man.” Though Freeway Rick’s indignation does have a point here, he misunderstands Ross’ motivations. Ross was never thinking about perceived social acceptance as a successful man. He was thinking about actual success. And he actually achieved it by making insane amounts of money because he understands the fan inclination to want to believe that artists’ music reflects a truthful depiction of their lives.
Hip-hop culture has always been based on the appropriation and re-interpretation of communal objects from the past. It’s called sampling. And hip-hop artists have been doing it in with their stage personas forever, pretending to be harder and more dangerous than they actually are. So when Ross took on the symbolic identity of a historical drug dealer, he was doing just that: “sampling” someone else’s life and then turning it into something new. And that is exactly why Rick Ross’ recent lawsuit against LMFAO for interpolating the lyric “Every day I’m hustlin” from his 2006 song “Hustlin” is so ironic, because when LMFAO jokingly altered that line, they were doing the exact same thing. Though Ross’ lawsuit states that LMFAO’s similar lyric is “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of “Hustlin,” the reality of the situation is a bit more nuanced.
You just can’t have a bit of success anymore without someone suing you. Rick Ross and and Jermaine Jackson have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against LMFAO over similarities between the band’s “Party Rock Anthem” lyrics and Ross’ song, “Everyday I’m Hustling.”
A lawsuit filed in Florida federal court states, “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.” The lawsuit goes on, “The phrase is so important to the success of ‘Party Rock Anthem,’ that LMFAO launched a highly successful clothing line, Party Rock Clothing, that features the phrase on T-shirts and other clothing items.”
“GoldieBlox achieved and continues to achieve additional publicity, press coverage, and, upon information and belief, greater sales of its products, as a direct result of the Beastie Boys’ perceived affiliation with the GoldieBlox Advertisement. Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others¦ The Beastie Boys Parties have suffered and will continue to suffer injury in an amount not presently known¦ [and] are entitled to recover from GoldieBlox the damages and lost profits they have sustained as a result of GoldieBlox’s unlawful acts of copyright infringement and to recover from GoldieBlox the gains, profits, and advantages GoldieBlox has obtained as a result of the wrongful conduct alleged herein.”
So goes a portion of the lawsuit filed by lawyers for the Beastie Boys against the toymaker GoldieBlox, who, as you likely know by now, used a ‘parody’ of the band’s song “Girls” in their recent popular commercial.
The group had previously contacted GoldieBlox to inquire about the use of their song (essentially saying, hey, you know you didn’t get permission and really can’t use this, right?) and the company responded by filing a preemptive lawsuit claiming fair use (again, they didn’t use the band’s track, but instead recorded a new version with changed lyrics). They then apologized and dropped the suit, saying, We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.
The Beasties have now called BS on this whole thing, noting that the company has already reaped the benefits of their questionable actions, with the original viral hit, plus the subsequent publicity.
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Watkins, 35, of Pontypridd, will now appear in court in May to face his charges. He is accused of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child under 13, more specifically conspiracy to rape a baby, and four offenses of possessing or distributing indecent images of children between May and December 2012. (more…)
Alt-rock pop-punk outfit Pentimento have been through a rough patch for the past few months, dealing with the ugly legal side of the music industry. On their website, the Buffalo-based band explains that they have been at battle with their former label Panic Records over the rights to their recordings and the release of their debut self-titled album. The label has issued a legal threat to the band as well as to their current label Paper + Plastick and their second distribution label Black Numbers. As a result, the band has been unable to set any specific release dates or have any physical copies pressed. Even worse, they have decided to part ways with their labels in order to protect them from legal action.
Today, Panic Records released a statement in response to this matter, which you can read on their Facebook page. The message basically points out that “there are two sides to every story,” claiming that the band are responsible for the initiation of this legal debacle.
While the situation is still unresolved, Pentimento still want to get their music out, so they have made their debut LP available online for free, with the humble option of donating to help them cover the costs of recording. If you would like to support them, click here to read their side of the story, check out their music, and consider offering a contribution.
If you like Pentimento, you might also like OurStage’s own Otenki.
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