Whoomp, You Owe $2M for Use of Hip-Hop Songs
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - A federal jury awarded a rap producer millions for copyright infringement of the hit songs "Whoomp! (There It Is)" and "Dazzey Duks."
"Dazzey Duks" was released in March 1993 by Los Angeles-duo Duice, and Miami-based duo Tag Team released "Whoomp" a month later.
Alvertis Isbell, also known as Al Bell, claimed that he owned the rights to the Billboard hits through Bellmark Records and his publishing business Alvertis Music.
DM Records allegedly licensed the recordings from Bellmark in 1997, and then bought that company's assets when it went bankrupt two years later.
In 2002, Isbell filed suit, claiming that DM used the songs in ways that violated the rights of Alvert Music, which had not declared bankruptcy.
But DM claimed that Alvert had sold its rights to third party and therefore no longer had standing.
Isabell insisted that he retains half of the ownership shares under an assignment agreement.
Though a federal judge dismissed the suit in 2002 for lack of standing, the 5th Circuit reversed and remanded in October 2009, agreeing with Alvert's reading of the contract.
The suit was transferred from the Eastern District of Texas to bankruptcy court and back over the course of nine years.
On Wednesday, a jury ordered DM to pay Isabell more than $2.13 million in actual damages and more than $132,000 in statutory damages for "Whoomp." Willful infringement of "Dazzey Duks" will cost DM more than $1,400 in actual damages and another $132,000 in statutory damages.