Sampling Suit Targets Vast Array Of Industry Players
Michigan-based Bridgeport Music Group (comprising publishing companies Bridgeport Music and Southfield Music and label arms Westbound Records and Nine Records) has filed a copyright infringement suitMichigan-based Bridgeport Music Group (comprising publishing companies Bridgeport Music and Southfield Music and label arms Westbound Records and Nine Records) has filed a copyright infringement suit against more than 800 defendants, including music publishers, copyright administrators, record labels, and performing rights organizations.
The suit, filed May 4 in the U.S. District Court of Tennessee, alleges that the defendants each had a hand in the production or distribution of rap songs that feature sampled elements of recordings or compositions owned by Bridgeport, and that Bridgeport has not been properly compensated for the use of the samples. Bridgeport's publishing and master recording catalogs includes significant material originally written and performed by George Clinton with his Parliament and Funkadelic outfits, both of which have long served as popular sampling sources for hip-hop artists.
Bridgeport's attorneys are seeking damages in the form of profits derived from the sale or licensing of the sample-laden material, plus up to $150,000 worth of statutory damages for each count against the defendants, including BMG Entertainment, EMI Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and BMI.
Clinton sued Bridgeport in 1999, attempting to reclaim the rights to the music he wrote between 1976 and 1983. In January of this year, a U.S. District Court judge in Tallahassee, Fla., ruled in favor of Bridgeport, barring Clinton from profiting from the songs. That suit also claimed Clinton's catalog had been sampled by rap artists without proper payment.
Calls to the five major labels resulted in no official comment at deadline.