How many entertainers believe themselves capable of negotiating the resolution of a thorny legal dispute? Stefan Gordy, a.k.a. Redfoo, one-half of Los Angeles-based electropop group LMFAO, might be one.
After Redfoo and his nephew Skyler Gordy — a.k.a. Sky Blu — were hit with a lawsuit from hip-hop superstar Rick Ross over LMFAO’s chart-topping 2010 song “Party Rock Anthem,” Redfoo told the media, “I think it’s a misunderstanding. … I know if me and Rick got on the phone, if we met in person we would talk about some stuff … it’d be over, and I’m willing to do that.”
Turns out it’s not so simple.
“Party Rock Anthem” contains the phrase “Every day I’m shufflin’,” which Ross objects to on the basis of its similarity to his own “Hustlin’,” which contains the lyric “Every day I’m hustlin’.”
Ross has brought a copyright-infringement claim as well as a trademark claim. The first goes to whether LMFAO’s song is an impermissible derivative of Ross’ song, while the issue of trademark pertains to the way that LMFAO allegedly confused the source of merchandise using the “Every day I’m shufflin'” phrase. (The way that Ross is using trademark might provide some guidance to those looking to figure out what Taylor Swift is up to in attempting to register some of her own lyrics as trademarks.)
On Feb. 6, Ross survived the first round in the lawsuit when a judge refused to dismiss the claims. Don’t read too much into U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams’ opinion though, because she only decided that issues such as whether “Every day I’m hustlin'” is a common, short phrase lacking originality and undeserving of copyright protection are better addressed at a later stage in the lawsuit. Nothing groundbreaking in the ruling.
The parties — which include co-defendants Kobalt Music Publishing, ad agency David & Goliath and automaker Kia Motors America — are now gearing up for a mediation session later this month to see if everyone can come to some sort of settlement.
Redfoo was evidently serious about his intention to work things out between him and Ross, because on Tuesday, the defendants submitted a motion that stated in part, “Stefan Gordy will take the lead in the mediation, and the other Defendants will be looking to him to either resolve the matter or to continue to litigate.”
Not so fast.
The Ross camp quickly submitted a response that objected to the arrangement. According to the filing:
“With respect to Skyler Gordy’s non-attendance, Plaintiffs are concerned about Stefan Gordy’s acting entirely in his stead in light of Skyler Gordy’s deposition testimony that he was never apprised of pre-suit settlement offers by Plaintiffs and that one of the main reasons for the break-up of the musical duo was the fact that Skyler Gordy had not been kept apprised of pertinent matters. Moreover, the representation that Stefan Gordy intends to single-handedly wrest control over the mediation process in advance of the mediation is disturbing.”
The many parties to the dispute are trying to figure out who has to actually show up at the mediation session and who can just dial in via telephone. Ross’ lawyer Karen Stetson sent the defense attorneys an email earlier in the week that said Sky Blu should be there to protect his own interest “unless Stefan is agreeing to pay Skyler’s share.” What’s more, she wrote in the proposal that neither Kia — the car company that used “Party Rock Anthem” in a commercial — nor David & Goliath be there “seems particularly inappropriate given that represents a large damages part of the case” and “would likely sabotage the process.”
Looks like Redfoo and Rick Ross won’t be hustlin’ a deal over the phone. Too much shufflin’.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.