Sixth Circuit Upholds Verdict|Against Biggie’s Music Publishers

    CINCINNATI (CN) – The Sixth Circuit upheld a jury’s finding that a rap track from the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready to Die” album illegally sampled the song “Singing in the Morning” by the Ohio Players.
Justin Combs Publishing, Bad Boy Entertainment, Universal Records and UMG Recordings sought a mistrial, claiming the verdict was a result of “passion and prejudice” after the prosecutor referred to a defendant as a “multimillion-dollar company” and implied that the defendants’ expert was “a fancy guy from New York.” The jury awarded Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records more than $730,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. The circuit affirmed the finding of infringement, but remanded the damages award, saying the compensatory amount “appears to have been a mistake,” and the punitive award was excessive. See ruling in Bridgeport Music v. Justin Combs Publishing.

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