The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for civil-rights icon Rosa Parks to proceed with her lawsuit against rap group OutKast over a hit song with her name as its title. The justices let sta
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for civil-rights icon Rosa Parks to proceed with her lawsuit against rap group OutKast over a hit song with her name as its title. The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that reinstated Parks' claims against OutKast, LaFace Records, Arista Records and BMG.
Parks sued in 1999, claiming use of her name without permission constituted false advertising and infringed on her right to publicity. She also claimed it defamed her character and interfered with a business relationship. She had approved a collection of gospel recordings by various artists, released in 1995 and titled "A Tribute to Mrs. Rosa Parks."
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 1999, ruling that constitutional free-speech rights under the First Amendment covered the use of Parks' name. The appeals court upheld the dismissal of the claims of defamation and interference with a business relationship, but reinstated the rest of the lawsuit, saying the defendants needed to show some artistic reason for calling the song "Rosa Parks."
Attorneys for the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court, saying the appeals court unconstitutionally allowed public figures to use trademark and right-of-publicity laws to censor speech. However, the high court rejected the appeal without comment.
OutKast's "Rosa Parks" peaked at No. 19 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks in 1999.