All Articles Tagged "lawsuit"

To Prove Their Case, Marvin Gaye’s Family Submits ‘Blurred Lines/Got To Give It Up’ Mashup

September 10th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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"Robin Thicke Blurred Lines pf"The battle between Marvin Gaye’s family and Robin Thicke isn’t over. Although in January the family settled a part of their lawsuit with Sony/ATV over the similarities between Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” the lawsuit, which also names producer Pharrell Williams and T.I., was far from over. And it just got even more interesting.

Gaye’s children added a new twist to their evidence. They delivered a “Blurred Lines/Got to Give It Up” mashup to a California federal judge. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nona Gaye, Frankie Gaye and Marvin Gaye III have now filed their summary judgment papers, directing the judge to recorded depositions and media interviews given by producer Pharrell and singer Thicke. Additionally, they submitted an audio mashup to serve as “concrete musical illustrations of the substantial similarities” between the two songs.

This could be “quite possibly the first time ever in a courtroom that a mash-up has been exploited to prove copyright infringement,” reports THR.

In the mashup, the vocals of “Blurred Lines” plays over the instrumental of “Got to Give It Up,” and then vice versa. “This material sounds like a perfect, natural match because it blends sonically,” says the summary judgment memorandum.

The Gayes also presented two expert musicologists describing eight substantial similarities: “(1) the signature phrase in the main vocal melodies; (2) the hooks; (3) the hooks with backup vocals; (4) the core theme in ‘Blurred Lines’ and backup hook in ‘Got to Give it Up’; (5) the backup hooks; (6) the bass melodies; (7) the keyboard parts; and (8) the unusual percussion choices,” reports Black America Web.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, in a preemptive strike, the plaintiffs instead described these as “unprotectable, commonplace ideas,” but the counterclaimants retort they are distinctive. Take the bass melodies, for instance. Both songs are said by the musicologists to have “two-measure phrases, which leave space in the middle of each of the bars, rhythms, and points of harmonic arrival. This is not simply an element of a genre, as it is unusual to have bass lines in R&B that leave this much space in the middle of the bar.”

A jury trial is not scheduled until Feb. 10, 2015.

Take a listen. What do you think?

You’ve Been Served! Wesley Snipes Still Having Trouble Paying Back Debts

September 3rd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Wesley Snipes at 'The Expendables 3' Premiere

Patrick Hoffmann/

Seems like Wesley Snipes can’t catch a break. Released from serving three years in prison for tax evasion not long ago, Snipes was allegedly served court papers while walking the red carpet to promote his new movie The Expendables 3 in Hollywood. On his way to the after-party, he was served with a notice ordering him to appear for a debtor’s examination, reports RadarOnline.

Snipes is being sued by powerful public relations agency Sitrick & Company for failure to pay fees associated with work the company did when the actor was facing felony tax evasion charges. Sitrick & Co. had already been given a judgment, which Snipes failed to pay and which has now grown to more than $103,000.

According to court documents, Snipes has been ordered to “furnish information to aid in enforcement of a money judgement.” It also says that he “may be subject to arrest and punishment for contempt of court, and the court may take an order requiring [him] to pay reasonable attorney fees incurred by the judgment creditor in this proceeding.”

In 2008, Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failure to file tax returns for three years, and not paying taxes worth $7 million. He appealed and lost and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was finally released in 2013.

Snipes needs to land in a blockbuster to catch up where his career left off and hopefully pay the bills. The star-studded Expendables film, featuring Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, failed to live up to the hype. It raked in just $15.8 million during its Labor Day three-day opening weekend. (The Expendables 2 did $28.6 million in three days.) The latest installment was victim to a leak three weeks ahead of its theatrical release.

But it is rumored that Snipes may do a new installment of his successful vampire serial. According to The New York Daily News, Snipes could make $3 million for Blade 4.

Let’s hope Snipes settles up soon with Sitrick & Company so he won’t be headed back to the slammer and can concentrate on his film comeback.

Parents Of Accused Teens In Kendrick Johnson Case Sue Ebony Magazine For $5 Million

August 28th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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kendrick-johnson_0Kendrick Johnson, a Georgia high school student was found dead in his high school gym in January. His body was found wrapped in a gym mat in the Lowndes High School gym. An initial investigation found that his death was accidental, caused by “positional asphyxia.” However, Johnson’s family expressed their belief their son’s death was a homicide and that the suffocation explanation was simply a “cover up.” The parents of two of Johnson’s classmates who were accused of taking part in his murder have filed a federal lawsuit against Ebony magazine and journalist Frederic Rosen claiming they slandered their childrens’ images. They’re seeking $5 million.

The classmates, Brian and Brandon Bell, sons of a Valdosta FBI agent, were depicted fictitiously as Chris and Clark Martin in the articles describing the case, written by Rosen. Rosen wrote that they were “possible suspects” in the murder.

“Tweets goes on to state that Chris Martin had the motive to murder KJ because of previous fights they had, resulting in a ‘prior animus’ going back at least two years,” reports The Jasmine Brand.

Despite the name changes, the Bells say people figured out who the article was referring to. Therefore, the boys were identified on social media and faced with threats. The lawsuit’s brief goes on to say that the Bell brothers aren’t guilty of any crime because video surveillance and witness comments indicate they were not near the gym; they were in class on en route to another school for a wrestling match.

You can read the court documents surrounding the case on the The Jasmine Brand. MadameNoire was in touch with Ebony. The magazine has no comment and at this time.

Does The Shoe Fit? Atlanta Footwear Designer Says Louis Vuitton Stole His Trademarked Design

August 28th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Harlem-born, Atlanta-based shoe designer Antonio Brown says Louis Vuitton has stolen his trademark design and now he’s suing.

According to Brown, the designer clothes and accessories company has used his trademark design for its “On the Road” sneaker collection. Brown’s trademark design is a toe plate on the front of his LVL XIII (Level Thirteen) designer shoes. All of this over a toe plate. You can take a look at it here.

Brown initially sued Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) and Louis Vuitton North America for trademark infringement. According to Brown, LVMH has been released from the lawsuit and Louis Vuitton North America has yet to respond, requesting an extension, which Brown and his attorney’s granted. The company now has until September 22.

“For me, I just want justice. I don’t want any more confusion in the marketplace. This was a trademark I established and put in the market,” Brown told Atlanta Journal Constition.

Brown launched LVL XIII in New York in 2012 and in October of that year, he crafted a luxury shoe design that featured a metal plate into the front sole of the shoe. Brown makes the high-end sneakers with exotic skins and leathers. In March, Brown filed for a trademark and soon the shoe became popular with celebrities, such as model Tyson Beckford and singers Chris Brown and Jason Derulo.

Retailing for $500 to $1,200, they were sold  in luxury boutiques like Fred Segal in Los Angeles. And according to Brown, LVL XII rang up nearly $500,000 in sales in the first two months.

The toe plate appeared on Vuitton’s Spring/Summer “On the Road” collection in February 2014 featured on high and low top sneakers. He says retail buyers and customers queried if he had a deal with Vuitton or if he had copied their shoes. “They released the collection into the market, sold out and it was detrimental to my brand in the process,” said Brown.

Jay Z, Kanye West & Frank Ocean Sued For $3 Million Over “Watch The Throne” Song

August 26th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Jay Z, Kanye West And Frank Ocean


Kanye West and Jay Z’s critically acclaimed “Watch The Throne” album is back in the news today for their track “Made In America.” The Jasmine Brand exclusively reports, the duo along with Frank Ocean are being sued by musician Joel McDonald for $3 million for copyright infringement.

McDonald claims West, Jay Z and Ocean plagiarized work he released in November 2009 via iTunes. The Jamine Brand writes, “The musician is suing for the trio stealing his music and he wants them to pay for their actions and making money off his work.”

Read the court documents regarding the case here.
Listen to the”Watch The Throne” version of   “Made In America,” below.

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Made in America (feat. Frank Ocean) from John Deer on Vimeo.

Here is McDonald’s version of “Made In America.”

Do you think both songs have similar content?

MIA & The NFL Have Settled Middle Finger-Gate

August 24th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Rapper MIA performed during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012. Two years later, there’s finally a resolution of the lawsuit that resulted from MIA’s flipping the bird during her act.

The amount and exact timing of the settlement have not been released. However, a spokesperson confirms to ESPN that a “confidential” arrangement has been reached.

There is a portion of the contract between performers and the NFL that the show will follow certain rules, and failure to do so will result in a fine. After the 2012 halftime performance — which was actually headlined by Madonna — the Federal Communications Commission received 222 complaints about middle finger display.

In the beginning, the NFL only sought $1.5 million. Unable to reach an agreement, they sued MIA for $15.1 million. MIA has been vocal throughout, tweeting about the process and saying that the players and coaches themselves have done worse and haven’t faced nearly the same amount of punishment.

Given the penalty handed down in the face of catching Ray Rice on video dragging his seemingly unconscious fiancee (now wife) out of a hotel elevator, it’s hard to deny her point. You’ll remember that Rice got a two-game suspension. Even Stephen A. Smith got a one-week suspension from ESPN for his objectionable comments about women “provoking” domestic violence after that decision came down. Word is that, just this week, the NFL only fined Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel $12,000 for giving the finger to the Washington Redskins.

The NFL is now asking acts to pay them to perform, perhaps to have the money in hand should something go awry? As we can see, the NFL doesn’t have a fixed and reasonable code of conduct, which results in these uneven penalties.

Plus, the league clearly doesn’t have its priorities straight since a middle finger is worth two years of fighting but there’s still a team that’s offensively called the Redskins in its ranks. One of the league’s own referees asked not to officiate games this team played and his request was granted. What is that? Get your house in order NFL.

Score One For BET: Network Comes Out The Winner In Lawsuit Over Fan’s Facebook Page For ‘The Game’

August 22nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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"The Game"Have you ever started a Facebook page for your favorite celebrity or product? Well, Stacey Mattocks did when in 2008 she opened a Facebook page for her favorite TV show, The Game. Her page became such a hit that  BET took notice and began to do business with Mattocks to promote the series. And with the help of Mattocks’ page the show’s popularity grew and the Facebook page garnered massive likes.

But things went south when BET wanted to take over the rights to the page. A messy lawsuit ensued last year. Finally a judgment has been rendered — and it could have a major impact on how we define who owns what on social media. A Florida judge has ruled that Facebook likes are not the property of page creators. According to the ruling, Mattocks can’t establish she owns a property interest in some 6.2 million likes she collected.

Mattocks had sued the Viacom-owned cable channel for “allegedly committing tortious interference, breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and copyright infringement,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. Mattocks later amended the lawsuit to add a claim of unlawful conversion.

In her lawsuit, Mattocks charged that BET initially agreed to pay her $30 per hour to work as a social media “freelancer” and later offered her an $85,000-a-year salary, which she turned down. According to Mattocks, BET pulled out all the stops to change her mind, even flying her out to Los Angeles for promotional interviews. But when she refused to transfer ownership of the fan page to BET, Facebook temporarily shut down her account.

What followed was a “Letter Agreement” with BET under which the network agreed that Mattocks wouldn’t be excluded from the page. In turn, she agreed to grant BET full administrative access. Mattocks says she signed the agreement under duress.

BET also tried to buy the page, offering $15,000; Mattocks requested $1.2 million, according to court papers. The negotiations continued and Mattocks dropped BET’s administrative access on the Facebook page from “manager” to “moderator.” BET, in turn, to issue a cease-and-desist letter. In the letter BET cited intellectual property and a demand to Facebook that it remove the page. This prompted Mattocks’ lawsuit.

“Based on the record, Mattocks cannot establish that she owns a property interest in the ‘likes’ on the FB Page,” writes the judge in an opinion (read more here). ” ‘Liking’ a Facebook Page simply means that the user is expressing his or her enjoyment or approval of the content. At any time, moreover, the user is free to revoke the ‘like’ by clicking an ‘unlike’ button. So if anyone can be deemed to own the ‘likes’ on a Page, it is the individual users responsible for them. Given the tenuous relationship between ‘likes’ on a Facebook Page and the creator of the Page, the ‘likes’ cannot be converted in the same manner as goodwill or other intangible business interests.”

The judge also dismissed Mattocks’ tortious interference claim, writing: “While BET may also have had other financial motives in disabling the Page and Twitter account, no record evidence shows that BET took these steps for purely malicious reasons.”

So remember, if you thinking to make money off a Facebook page for a product or other person, according to this judgment you have no legal ownership of pages’ likes. Be sure you know what’s yours and focus on monetizing those elements. Everything else belongs to users, Facebook and the Internet.

Chicago Woman Sues Plastic Surgeon For Labeling Before Photos As “Cocaine Nose”

August 1st, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Cocaine Nose

Image Source:

Chicago woman Sabrina Kropp has filed a lawsuit against her plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Walton, for posting photos of her nose prior to having plastic surgery on his website labeled “cocaine nose.”

The Chicago Tribune says Dr. Walton took the photos of Kropp in 2004. At the time, the two had an understanding that the images of Kropp would be secure in her medical records. Despite this agreement, Dr.Walton  used the photos to advertise his new practice, Plastic Surgery Chicago LLC. Dr. Walton published the photos of Kropp on his site in 2013. According to Dr. Walton’s website, the definition of a “cocaine nose” is:

“Cocaine causes a constriction or closing of blood vessels. When cocaine is snorted through the nose, it causes the blood vessels in the nasal lining to constrict. Chronic cocaine usage can result in prolonged constriction of the nasal lining blood vessels with resultant death of these tissues. This results in sores in the nasal lining and septum that can lead to perforations of the septum, infection, loss of supporting cartilage, scarring and eventual collapse of the nose. Unique to the cocaine injured nose is the relative sparing of the external skin cover.”

Reading that description it’s not hard to see why Kropp, who is suing Dr. Walton’s medical practice for breaching the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is so upset. HIPAA requires an individual’s written authorization before medical information is used for publication, marketing, teaching or commercial purpose.

Kropp alleges that Dr. Walton’s decision to use her photos on his site have caused her “to become distressed, shamed and embarrassed.” Since, filing her suit Kropp’s photos have been deleted from Dr. Walton’s medical site, but thanks to the Smoking Gun, you can still see them here.

Ne-Yo Sues His Accountant For $8M, Alleges Money Was Invested Without Permission

August 1st, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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The Money Can’t Buy R&B crooner Ne-Yo is accusing his former accountant Kevin Foster of sneaky schemes and he’s suing him for $8 million, Eurweb reports.

Foster was Ne-Yo’s “manager, confidant, trusted adviser and friend,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan Federal Court. Yet, Ne-Yo — real name Shaffer Smith —  claims that Foster has been slipping money from his bank account since 2005.

The lawsuit alleges that Foster forged Smith’s signature on loan documents and invested the singer’s money in a water company that was on the brink of bankruptcy. In other words, Ne-Yo had no idea, according to the Daily News, that he was the president and chief financial officer of a troubled business.

It was only after Ne-Yo hired an accounting firm that he discovered Foster’s engagement in “self-dealing and inappropriate conduct,” The Daily News says.

Foster, Ne-Yo says, swindled him out of $4.5 million. The three-time Grammy award winner is also asking for an additional $3.5 million for fees he had paid for Foster’s services.

According to the lawsuit, Foster’s job was to “ensure Smith was financially situated as to maintain his accustomed lifestyle for the remainder of his life, protect Smith from financial ruin, and mitigate risk of frivolous spending.” The implication, of course, is that he did the opposite.

“Apparently, money can’t buy a good accountant,” EurWeb joked.

New Edition Sued By Former Managers For $500,000

July 30th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Hugh Dillon/

Hugh Dillon/WENN.comd

Benchmark Entertainment, a management company whose founders have represented stars including Erykah Badu and Green Day, is suing the group New Edition for $500,000.

The company says it was hired in 2012 and got them three concerts last year and a concert tour this year. Benchmark says it was paid its 12.5 percent in 2013, but hasn’t been paid this year for work that’s worth at least half a million dollars. Benchmark says its work includes setting up radio interviews and merchandising deals.

The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court this week.

Ronny DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell and Mike Bivens are on tour now and will be until they do their last show in Los Angeles on August 3. Bobby Brown left the tour a few weeks ago after it became apparent he couldn’t keep up with the group’s dance moves and actually left the stage during a Mississippi performance.

There’s been no further comment on the lawsuit.