BROOKLYN (CN) – Music publishers say they paid roots-reggae musician Kemar “Flava” McGregor $290,000 for “exclusive rights” to his music, then McGregor resold the rights to at least six other publishers. The publishers say McGregor and his businesses have even “purported to terminate the very agreements whose existence they deny.”
V.P. Music Group, STB Music and Greensleeves Records sued McGregor and two companies he allegedly operates out of his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla.: No Doubt Records and Flava Records in Federal Court.
The plaintiffs say McGregor defrauded them by reselling song rights to (nonparties) Tafari Music, the Royalty Network, Big Fish Media, Zojak World Wide, Independent Recording Industry Services and Believe Digital GmbH – and maybe to others.
“Plaintiffs have unfortunately learned from experience that the defendants can and will say pretty much anything that they think will help them, regardless of the actual facts, or of past statements that defendants themselves have made,” the complaint states.
“The defendants have, at varying times, claimed that inconvenient agreements are invalid ‘forgeries’ or never happened. The defendants have quite publicly claimed that they have never received a single check or accounting from plaintiffs, despite the fact that the defendants have cashed many checks and have actually returned accountings to the plaintiffs while at the same time demanding that they never receive any additional accountings in the future. The defendants have even ineffectively purported to terminate the very agreements whose existence they deny.
“In short, the defendants have created a legal mess for plaintiffs by repeatedly trying to obtain new advances from unsuspecting third parties. When the plaintiffs wanted to speak privately in order to resolve the conflicting claims that the defendants created, the defendants chose to interpret plaintiffs’ willingness to resolve matters as an admission that Plaintiffs had no rights at all,” the plaintiffs say.
“Defendants surreptitiously taped a conversation and used an excerpt out of context as part of an ongoing public Internet smear campaign against plaintiffs. In that campaign, they have denied that the defendants ever had agreements with plaintiffs, that the defendants ever received checks from plaintiffs, or that the defendants ever received accountings from plaintiffs. They prominently claim that they own all rights in and to the subject music and accuse plaintiffs of stealing ‘their’ music.
“The plaintiffs have finally had enough. By this lawsuit, they intend to enforce their rights.”
Plaintiffs seek punitive damages for copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, dilution and tortious interference with contractual relations. They also seek delivery and destruction of all infringing items, including album covers, and want the defendants enjoined from reselling rights to the music the plaintiffs already purchased.
They are represented by Daniel Aaron.