Yellowcard Proceeding With Juice WRLD Copyright Lawsuit After Rapper's Death

ISSUE 6 2019 - DO NOT USE - OUT ON MARCH 7, 2019 AT 10AM EST
Olivia Bee
Juice WRLD photographed on Feb. 13, 2019 in Los Angeles. 

A judge has approved a nearly two-month extension for all defendants to respond to the original complaint.

Yellowcard is moving forward with its copyright infringement lawsuit against Juice WRLD (née Jarad A. Higgins), despite the rapper’s untimely death on Dec. 8, according to new documents filed in U.S. District Court.

The band’s intent to continue pursuing the suit was made clear with the filing of an order by Judge Conseulo B. Marshall on Tuesday that extends the amount of time defendants have to respond to the original complaint by nearly two months, from Dec. 9 to Feb. 4.

A representative for Juice WRLD did not immediately respond to Billboard's request for comment.

Former Yellowcard bandmates William Ryan Key, Peter Michael Mosely, Longineu Warren Parsons and Sean Michael Wellman-Mackin sued Juice WRLD and multiple other individuals and entities on Oct. 21, accusing the rapper of using of “melodic elements” from their 2006 song “Holly Wood Died” in his hit 2018 single “Lucid Dreams” without permission.

The band is asking for damages in excess of $15 million and a "running royalty and/or ownership share" on all future exploitations related to the song or, alternatively, statutory damages for each act of copyright infringement and for all defendants to be “permanently enjoined” from exploiting “Lucid Dreams” in the future. At the time the complaint was filed, they were also seeking damages from Juice WRLD’s concert tours and other public appearances, noting that the “overwhelming success” of “Lucid Dreams” launched the rapper’s career.

“The Infringing Work and Infringing Sound Recording directly misappropriates quantitatively and qualitatively important portions of Plaintiffs’ Original Work in a manner that is easily recognizable to the ordinary observer,” the original complaint read. “The Infringing Work and Infringing Sound Recording are not only substantially similar to the Original Work, but in some places virtually identical.”

In addition to Juice WRLD, defendants named in the suit include “Lucid Dreams” co-writer Taz Taylor (a.k.a. Danny Lee Snodgrass Jr.), along with his publishers Taz Taylor Beats, Artist 101 Publishing Group and publishing administrator Kobalt Music Services; producer Nicholas Mira, along with his publishers Nick Mira Publishing, Electric Feel Music and publishing administrator Songs of Universal; “Lucid Dreams” publisher BMG Rights Management; record label Grade A Productions; and Grade A’s parent company, Interscope Records.

Juice WRLD died on Dec. 8 after suffering a seizure and going into cardiac arrest inside a terminal at Chicago’s Midway Airport. At the time, law enforcement were in the process of searching his private jet for suspected contraband including firearms and drugs. Though the rapper was alive when paramedics arrived, he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. He was 21 years old. The official cause of death has not yet been determined.

In the wake of Juice WRLD's death, "Lucid Dreams" re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 8. The track previously peaked at No. 2 on the chart.

UPDATE 12/19/19: Richard Busch, of King & Ballow, the law firm representing Yellowcard in the suit, has issued the following statement:

"First of all, we were as shocked and saddened by Juice WRLD’s death as everyone else. It is a tragic loss to his family, his fans, and to the music world at large, and we understand why people may be confused about the decision to continue with this lawsuit.  My clients are certainly torn about proceeding, and understand the optics involved. But it is important to remember that this lawsuit was filed before this tragic event, and was filed because all of the defendants (and there are 2 other writers and several music publishers and record labels), profited off of what we believe was clear copying and infringement of Yellowcard’s work. We have an expert report making that clear. So while they are absolutely aware of how this may be perceived, and truly have incredible mixed emotions, the question is whether it is fair that all of those many parties profited, and will continue to profit, off of what my client’s believe strongly was their work. We should also mention that it has been falsely reported that Yellowcard is demanding a specific amount of damages. They are simply seeking what the law allows, and what parties in their position have sought in similar cases, which at this point is not determined."


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