Category: Lawsuits

Lil Wayne lawsuit over 'The Carter' documentary takes another twist

GetprevDespite boasting a pair of currently charting smash singles and a sold-out national tour, not everything is waffles and syrup for Lil Wayne.

Known for his frequent travails with both the criminal and civil courts, Wayne's latest imbroglio stems from the documentary "The Carter," which debuted at Sundance in 2009 to much critical acclaim. Focused on the rapper's notoriously prolific recording and drug habits, it immediately drew consternation from Wayne's camp.

Whereas Wayne once cut a swath as rap's Jim Morrison -- an addled and slurred Dionysian figure -- he has cleaned up his act in recent years. Reportedly sober, a coherence creeps into his speech that was formerly laced with weird rambles. Whereas he once played self-indulgent and ham-fisted guitar solos at his shows, he now espouses his love of God and his fans.

Presumably, this desire to project a more family-friendly image is part of the reason why his attorneys filed a $50-million lawsuit to halt the documentary made by Digerati Holdings LLC. Chagrined by the film's "objectionable content," Wayne's team is also suing over breach of contract, invasion of privacy, fraud, misrepresentation and unfair business practices.

The opening salvo of the suit filed by Lavely & Singer utilizes a level of comic invective rarely seen outside of a Lil Wayne song:

Corporate greed and fraud reached its zenith in 2008. Bernard Madoff stole $56 billion dollars from unsuspecting victims. A prominent attorney pretended to be someone else and made off with $380 million dollars. Apparently not content to sit on the sidelines and see this brazen hustlers make off with all the money, Digerati Holdings, LLC decided it wanted to participate in its own massive con game.

Unsurprisingly, Digerati filed a countersuit, alleging that Wayne was in breach of contract for failing to perform agreed-upon interviews, and for reneging on a deal to provide the filmmakers with video material. The countersuit also alleges that Wayne and his camp attempted to stop the spread of the film by attempting to sway Viacom and MTV Networks from distributing it.

Last November, Wayne was released from Rikers Island prison after serving eight months on a weapon possession charge. In 2008, he was sued by Urband & Lazar Music Publishing for allegedly using a sample in his mixtape hit "I Feel Like Dying" without permission. The suit caused him, in turn, to sue the song's producer Jim Jonsin, and was later settled out of court.

The suit over "The Carter" rages on, with both sides expected to reconvene later this year in court, where a jury will ultimately decide the case's fate.

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-- Jeff Weiss

 Photo: Lil Wayne makes an appearance at the 2009 Grammy Awards at Staples Center. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Elvis Presley Enterprises sues Chrysalis Music Group over publishing payments

Elvis Presley Enterprises is suing Chrysalis Music Group to the tune of $5 million, charging that Chrysalis failed to perform its duties administering publishing of songs owned by EPE.

In a suit filed last week in New York Supreme Court, EPE and the heirs of publishers Julian and Jean Aberbach charge Chrysalis with underpaying royalties on songs to which EPE and the Aberbachs hold the copyrights, and other royalty collection and payment issues. Presley and his manager, Col. Tom Parker, entered into a music publishing deal with the Aberbachs in 1955, at the outset of the singer's career.

Chrysalis Music Group had been contracted by EPE and the Aberbachs to protect their publishing rights and collect royalties from 2002 to 2006, according to the suit, which also alleges that Chrysalis failed to make payments to EPE and the Aberbachs even after its own audits showed that additional money was due them.

The suit asks for a minimum of $5 million in damages.

“The lawsuit came as a surprise to us, as we have been working with the Presley estate on resolving an ongoing audit," a Chrysalis spokesman said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Without prejudice, it is our intention to keep working towards a satisfactory solution for all parties concerned.”

-- Randy Lewis

Ray Charles Foundation sues the singer's eldest son over book

Ray Charles book You Don't Know Me The Ray Charles Foundation has filed a lawsuit charging the late soul singer’s eldest son, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., with copyright infringement stemming from the use of a photograph and several of Charles’ songs in the son’s recent book “You Don’t Know Me: Reflections of My Father,  Ray Charles.”

The Foundation, which Charles assigned as the owner of his copyrights and intellectual property rights upon his death in 2004, alleges that Robinson’s book used a copyrighted photo, the titles and  lyrics of four of his songs without permission.

The action filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks $150,000 for each copyright violation and also names as defendants the book’s publisher, Crown Publishing, and Crown’s parent company, Random House, and Robinson’s co-author, Mary Jane Ross. Random House officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The dedication page of Robinson Jr.’s book, which was published in June, reads, in part, “To the memory of my father, Ray Charles Robinson, and all that you were to be and all that you dreamed you wanted to be. I love you come rain or come shine.”

-- Randy Lewis

Santogold is now Santigold, but Santo Rigatuso's lawyer says it's not enough

Santigold300According to a press release sent Wednesday, Santogold, the stallion-riding genre-mixer, has changed the middle letter of her name, thus becoming Santigold. The announcement goes on to explain, "She’s not telling you why, that’s just how it is. No unpronounceable symbol, no numbers where they shouldn’t be ... just plain ... Santigold."

In keeping with the "not telling you why" part, her representative has stated that he has no further comment. Of course, the singer's name is Santi White, but why bother with a name change now, after a tremendous wave of momentum that placed her debut album in nearly every 2008 Top 10 list?

White's name-changing fracas began, according to Stereogum, in November when a press release from the mtvU Woodies Awards referred to her as "Santi (the artist formerly known as Santogold)." The Prince-like name change didn't stick but it did draw attention to why she might've done it. Turns out that lawyers for an '80s infomercial/cult artist by the name of Santo Gold filed a lawsuit in June against White, Downtown Music and Lizard King Records, claiming name infringement. Santo Gold is seeking compensatory damages, an injunction barring the use of the "Santo Gold mark or anything substantially similar" and the recall and destruction of all items already in commerce allegedly infringing on the Santo Gold mark.

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