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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Run DMC’s Ex-Lyricist Hit with $1.4M Legal Bill

MANHATTAN (CN) - Backfiring in his attempt to collect royalties for penning Run DMC's hit rhymes, once-celebrated lyricist Davy DMX now faces a nearly $1.4 million judgment against him and his label.

David Reeves, better known as Davy DMX, lived in poverty a decade ago while one of his most famous songs, "Run's House," inspired an MTV program by the same name.

When the song was released in 1988, Reeves originally had a royalty contract with Rush Groove Music, but the publisher went belly up two years later. Their contract forced Reeves to give up any copyright interest in exchange for generous royalties.

Protoons, one of the companies to acquire Rush Groove's rights, hit pay dirt with a deal to turn the song into the eponymous reality TV show that debuted on Oct. 13, 2005.

Reeves, who became indigent and homeless between 2006 and 2007, tried to pull himself out of poverty by entering into a contract with Reach Music Publishing to sell half of his purported copyright interest for $55,000.

In 2009, Reeves and Reach sued Protoons and Warner/Chappell Music in Manhattan Federal Court.

Protoons followed through on a threat to "bury" Reeves with legal fees for pursuing litigation.

While the original lawsuit quickly sputtered out, Protoons' countersuit for breach of contract and tortious interference moved forward.

After a two-day bench trial last March, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in Protoons' favor, but she reserved judgment on how much the publisher was owed.

She calculated the damages, legal fees and costs at $1,397,245 on Friday, in a 34-page opinion.

Attorney Christine Lepera, who represents Protoons for the firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, said her client was "pleased" with the decision and the "award of substantial damages incurred."

"We are also considering other steps to pursue in connection with the harm done to our client," she added.

Reeves and Reach's lawyer did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

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