TufAmerica Brings Infringement Suit Against Jay-Z..Again
Nick Guarino, Arther Law’s Industry Insider Blog
TufAmerica has once again come forth against a major hip hop mogul, this time alleging copyright infringement for the unlicensed use of their track “Hook & Sling Part 1.”
The lawsuit was brought against Jay-Z, Warner Bros. Music and Roc-A-Fella Records for illegally using the song in Jay-Z’s song “Run This Town.” The song, also featuring Kanye West and Rihanna, was a major hit single in the United States.
TufAmerica seeks an injunction on further distribution of both the music video as well as the music recording. Further, the plaintiff seeks restitution of profits gained by the sale of the track as well as punitive damages. The complaint alleges that samples of TufAmerica’s licensed tracks was used dozens of times throughout Jay-Z’s track, which was released on both “The Blue Print 3” and “The Hits Collection Volume One.” The allegedly sampled song, “Hook & Sling Part 1,” was first released by Eddie Bo, a deceased American pianist, in 1969.
This is not the first time that TufAmerica has brought suit against Roc-A-Fella. The Daily News reports that this is actually the third time this year that the label has filed suit against the music giant for infringement claims. The first two ended in settlement out of court, and it would not be surprising for this to end in a similar fashion. Although most in the music industry want protection from copyright infringement, this behavior by TufAmerica has been criticized by many as “patent trolling,” a practice by which companies purchase the rights to various musical libraries simply as a means to make money off of infringement claims. Sampling, especially in the hip-hop realm, is a huge driving factor in creativity and new sounds. Columnist Erik Nielson discussed the effects that aggressive litigation, like that by TufAmerica, may have on the hip-hop industry. He believes that increasing licensing fees and fear of potential litigation could prompt a chill in musical innovation for new and upcoming artists.
Despite the criticisms of TufAmerica’s legal strategies, courts have repeatedly upheld in favor of owners of copyrighted materials and will likely continue to do so. The balance between musical innovation and the rights of license owners is a difficult one indeed and one that courts continue to struggle with.The courts will likely continue to do so unless new legislation is introduced down the road.