Default Gimme The Loot: Bad Boy Sued Over "Ready To Die" Samples

ImageBad Boy Records, the estate of The Notorious B.I.G. and Universal Records, which distributed Ready to Die, are all currently being sues for samples used on the late rapper's 1994 classic album.

Music publishing company Bridgeport Music Inc, and sister company Westbound Records have launched a copyright infringement lawsuit, contending that Biggie (born Christopher Wallace), Bad Boy and Universal never received permission to use sample their works to record the songs "Ready to Die," "Machine Gun Funk" and "Gimme the Loot."

Bridgeport and Westbound say that B.I.G. recordings of "Ready to Die" and "Gimme the Loot" illegally used samples from Ohio Players' "Singing in the Morning," and that "Machine Gun Funk" uses a part of the Horny Horns' "Up for the Down Stroke." Bridgeport owns only the copyright for both compositions.

Lawyers for both sides appeared in court before U.S. District Court Magistrate Joe Brown last week on a defense motion to dismiss some legal claims before trial.

"They have taken Westbound's and Bridgeport's music," Richard Busch, Bridgeport and Westbound's attorney, told Brown. "They included the music in their music and pawned it off as one of their own."

Nashville courts are probably more accustomed to legal disputes involving country music, not hip-hop, but King & Ballow, Busch's Nashville firm, filed the case in U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee, saying most of the defendants have a substantial presence in and regularly conduct business in the state.

Jay Bowen of the Nashville law firm Bowen, Riley, Warnock & Jacobson, which represents Bad Boy and Universal maintains that Bad Boy had the proper licenses to record the songs and adds that Westport has no federal copyright claim to the "Singing in the Morning." The sound recording for that song appears to have been copyrighted in 1971, before sound recordings were granted federal copyright protection.

Busch disputes that claim and is also seeking damages under state laws in Michigan and Tennessee that he says apply. As of Tuesday (December 27), Magistrate Brown had not ruled on the motions, which also seek to dismiss Universal as a defendant.

Bridgeport and Westbound, both owned by Armen Boladian, own the rights to hundreds of popular 1970s funk recordings. Since 2001, Bridgeport has filed over 400 lawsuits-477 to be exact-against music and entertainment companies claiming copyright infringement.

Since Ready To Die has sold over 4 million copies, both parties have a lot at stake in this lawsuit. The three cases involving Ready to Die would be the first Bridgeport cases to reach jury trial. Most have been settled and a few dismissed.

The lawsuit is currently scheduled to go to trial next March in Nashville.

In related news, The Notorious B.I.G.'s Duets: The Final Chapter was one of the top-selling albums this holiday season.

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