A federal court awarded George Clinton sole copyright ownership of four Funkadelic albums he recorded for Warner Bros. around 1979.

NEW YORK -- A federal court awarded George Clinton sole copyright ownership of four Funkadelic albums he recorded for Warner Bros. around 1979.

U.S. District Court judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles on June 2 made the decision after trial without a jury. He determined that "Hardcore Jollies," "One Nation Under A Groove," "Uncle Jam Wants You" and "The Electric Spanking of War Babies" were not assigned to Clinton's former manager Nene Montes or his Tercer Mundo.

Montes initially brought the suit against Ron Brembry, Bruce Peterson and Ramon Spruell d/b/a Assn. Parliament Funkadelic Members 73-81 (APF) and their attorneys Kaplan, Kenegos & Kadin seeking a declaratory judgment for ownership of the masters, conversion and fraud. The law firm allegedly held a lien on the masters. The defendants brought George Clinton and Charly Acquisitions into the suit.

The trial focused on December 1981 assignments of all of Clinton's copyrights in the masters to Tercer Mundo. APF claimed rights through these assignments.

Clinton argued that Warner Bros. initially owned the sound recordings. He entered an agreement in 1982 where Warner Bros. agreed that the copyrights would revert to Clinton if or when he could secure a distribution agreement with a third-party distributor that agreed to pay a 5% royalty override until Warner Bros. was paid $283,333.34.

He also argued that he did not sign the assignments to his former manager's company. Further, the assignments did not state -- nor was Clinton paid -- any consideration for the alleged assignments.

APF claimed that Montes' company entered this override agreement in August 1982. Clinton argued that the company was never a distributor as intended by the Warner Bros. agreement. It was not until Priority Records entered an override agreement in 1993 that this condition was met.

The court's June 2 minute order did not state any reasons for the decision. It merely stated that it found that Clinton is the sole owner of the four masters at issue and that the liens of the law firms are invalid and shall not be honored. It instructed counsel for Clinton to submit further proposed findings and a proposed judgment.

Don Engel with Engel & Engel in Palo Alto, Calif., tried the case for Clinton.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print