What’s the definition of “March Madness”? For most, it’s the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament where 68 teams will compete for championship glory. In the legal sphere, it may be a lawsuit filed against CBS Broadcasting on Friday by a Kentucky rapper who believes the network’s college basketball coverage unfairly took advantage of a national dance craze he helped spark.
The Cinderella in this lawsuit is Kensey “Kenzo” Rankin, a hip hop artist who created the song, “Do the Shizz.” He owns the copyright to the song along with Gracie Prods and another man, Marcus Clark. Together, they allege that CBS has been exploiting the song without permission.
The song came to prominence last year thanks to basketball phenom John Wall, who starred last season as a point guard for Kentucky University before being drafted first overall by the Washington Wizards. Wall came to Kentucky with a lot of hype, and when he was introduced in 2009 to the adulating masses of Wildcat nation at Big Blue Madness, he did it in style.
Amid theatrics that would make producers of “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” blush, Wall entered the stadium from the rafters and with “Do the Shizz” playing, he made a crazy yet simple fist dance move that lasted approximately four seconds. It was enough to spark a viral sensation.
Soon, basketball fans, people getting married, kids, librarians, and others were doing the “John Wall Dance” and posting their imitations on YouTube. The madness got even more crazy after ESPN covered the phenomenon. (See below)
Everyone’s dancing this tournament season except for Kenzo, who is looking for a piece of the action.
Kenzo has filed a lawsuit against CBS for airing several segments about Wall and the dance. He’s not claiming copyright in the dance — although, choreography has been known to be copyrighted — but rather that his music has been exploited. It’s unclear whether the network cued up the track or just had the song playing as incidental background music. Nevertheless, Kenzo is seeking maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement and an injunction that would prevent it from using the song in the future without authorization.