Martin Shkreli Dropped From Wu-Tang Clan Album Art Lawsuit

Martin Shkreli 2016
 Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Martin Shkreli leaves a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Rayburn Building in Washington, DC on Feb. 4, 2016.

Martin Shkreli has one less legal hassle to worry about. The controversial ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO was dropped this week from a copyright infringement lawsuit tied to his November purchase of the infamous one-copy, $2 million Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album by the Wu-Tang Clan

Martin Shkreli Sued Over Wu-Tang Clan Album Artwork

New York artist Jason Koza claims that he granted permission for his illustrations of the Wu-Tang to work to be used on the WuDisciples website two years ago, but not for inclusion in the 174-page booklet included in the album. Koza filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in March seeking damages from Shkreli, auction site Paddle8, Wu-Tang leader RZA (born Robert Diggs) and Wu-affiliated producer Tarik "Cilvaringz" Azzougarh.

Martin Shkreli's Lawyer Argues Fair Use in Copyright Lawsuit Over Art Within Wu-Tang Record

"Mr. Koza agreed to drop his case against Mr. Shkreli on the morning that his opposition to Mr. Shkreli's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim was due to be filed in federal court," Shkreli's lawyer, John Wait of Fox Rothschild told Billboard in a statement. "Mr. Shkreli did not agree to any conditions or pay any form of settlement in exchange for being dismissed from the case. In our view it is likely that Mr. Koza recognized that he would be unable to maintain an infringement claim against Mr. Shkreli in light of the fair use doctrine."

Koza's lawyer, Peter Scoolidge, told Billboard, "we stipulated to drop the case against Mr. Shkreli for the time being because he is apparently indemnified by other parties in the case." While Scoolidge would not comment further on what was included in Shkreli's purchase agreement that might shield him from the costs of any legal action tied to the sale, Scoolidge previously told Billboard that "our position is that we have properly alleged a claim of infringement against Mr. Shkreli." He also noted on Wednesday (Apr. 20) that the suit was "dismissed without prejudice," which means that it could be refiled at any time. 

The suit claimed that, though the illustrations were not used for promotional purposes, reproducing them in the booklet is a copyright violation and Shkreli is a party to that violation. As for the indemnification, Wait speculated that Scoolidge might be referring to "the sellers who could be called upon to indemnify Mr Shkreli in certain circumstances -- including the unlikely event that Mr. Koza obtained a jugement against Mr. Shkreli for infringement."  

RZA on Martin Shkreli Buying Exclusive Wu-Tang Album: 'He Bought It, He Can Do What He Wants'

Wait has argued all along that Shkreli's act of playing the album and displaying the artwork for a Vice reporter was "covered under the fair use doctrine."


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