A judge halted sales of late rapper Notorious B.I.G.’s breakthrough 1994 album “Ready to Die” after a jury decided the title song used part of an Ohio Players tune without permission. On Friday, a Nashville jury awarded $4.2 million in punitive and direct damages to the two music companies that own rights to Ohio Players recordings.
The sales ban imposed by U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell affects the album and the title song in any form, including Internet downloads and radio play. It was unclear when or how the ban would take effect. By Saturday evening, a search of BestBuy.com and Amazon.com showed “Ready to Die” was still available for purchase online.
The jury decided that Bad Boy Entertainment and executive producer Sean “Diddy” Combs illegally used a part of the Ohio Players’ 1992 song “Singing in The Morning.” Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records, which owned the song rights, have filed hundreds of lawsuits over sampling in recent years. Most were settled out of court.
The companies get most of their income from song royalties by their artists, which include funk legend George Clinton, the Funkadelics and the Ohio Players.
“We’ve just been battling this for such a long time,” Armen Boladian, owner of Westbound and Bridgeport said. “So many have been settled because companies didn’t want anything to do with it, and we knew we were right.”
The defendants, Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy LLC, Justin Combs Publishing and Universal Records, plan to appeal. “We think [the verdict] is without merit,” defense lawyer Jay Bowen said. The estate of Notorious B.I.G. was originally sued but was dropped later as a defendant.
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