Los Angeles, CA. A New York federal judge has ruled that Lee Hutson, the lead singer of the soul group The Impressions, lacks standing to move forward with his copyright lawsuit against Warner Music Group (WMG), Universal Music Group, EMI Music Publishing, Big Poppa Music, Bad Boy Records, Janice Combs Publishing Inc., along with the estate of The Notorious B.I.G. The claims centered on B.I.G.’s 1994 debut album.
Nixon Peabody represented WMG, EMI, Big Poppa, Bad Boy and the Estate of B.I.G.
The defendants were able to show clear chain of title to both the composition and the sound recording. Similar to the recent ruling in the “Happy Birthday” case, this decision arose from documentary support of ownership claims. In this case, the defendants were able to conclusively establish ownership so much so that the ruling was with prejudice—uncommon on a first motion to dismiss.
Staci Riordan, partner and co-lead the Nixon Peabody legal team, noted, “In today’s connected world and as technology becomes more sophisticated, we see these copyright claims increasing. This decision underscores the need to document transactions properly, and to make sure the documents are kept.”
Julian Petty, partner and co-leader of the Nixon Peabody legal team, added, “Intellectual property is a valuable asset. We are tremendously pleased with the Court’s ruling and the vindication of our clients’ rights.”
The Nixon Peabody legal team also included Neal Gauger and Seth Berman.