Def Jam Guilty Of Fraud In Suit From TVT

A jury in New York Federal Court on Friday found Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) chairman Lyor Cohen and Def Jam Records liable for fraud, copyright infringement, and breach of contract regarding t

A jury in New York Federal Court on Friday found Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) chairman Lyor Cohen and Def Jam Records liable for fraud, copyright infringement, and breach of contract regarding the planned release by TVT Records of a hip-hop album by producer Irv Gotti, and misuse of other TVT material. The unreleased album featured Ja Rule, his group Cash Murda Click (CMC), and others.

New York-based TVT -- which was home to Ja Rule and Gotti before they signed separate recording contracts with Def Jam -- filed the $30 million lawsuit on Oct. 18, 2002. The suit claims that Cohen had granted approval for TVT to release a Gotti-produced CMC album, featuring material by Ja Rule from when he was under contract to the indie.

In the suit, TVT alleges that Cohen and Def Jam then interfered with the release of the album, which was scheduled to be released last Nov. 26. Indeed, it says that Cohen instructed Ja Rule and Gotti not to deliver the album to TVT and stated that he would "prevent the album's release unless it is released on Def Jam's label, rather than TVT's."

An IDJMG spokesperson says the company will appeal the verdict because it feels the jury "was not allowed to consider all the evidence," including a letter from Cohen to TVT supporting the projects, and sworn testimony from Gotti claiming his alleged surprise by the TVT suit. "We are confident that when they do, we will prevail," says the spokesperson.

The jury is due to meet April 28 to determine damages, according to TVT lawyer Peter Haviland.