SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Nina Simone’s estate and her former attorney agreed to drop claims against each other in their years-long, multi-tiered legal dispute over rights to the late singer’s recordings.
Defendant Andrew Stroud was married to Simone, who died in 2003. Stroud and his companies have been involved in multiple legal battles involving rights to Simone’s recordings.
In 2008, Simone’s former attorney Steven Ames Brown sued Stroud, claiming 40 percent interest in Simone’s recordings from representing her in two earlier lawsuits.
Stroud and his production company countersued Brown and Simone’s estate, claiming to be exclusive owner of the disputed recordings, based on a 1972 settlement agreement with his ex-wife.
Brown also sought a court declaration that Sony Music Entertainment owns the recordings that Stroud claims to own.
Stroud died in 2012. His wife Scarlett was put in his place in the pending lawsuits.
In April 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins recommended an order declaring that Stroud, his estate and companies do not have any legal right to reproduce “any Nina Simone recordings or audiovisual works.”
Cousins also found that Simone’s estate rightfully owned a number of recordings, and the Stroud parties had no interest in other recordings. The judge also recommended an injunction against the Stroud parties.
Then in July, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White partly adopted Cousins’ recommendations, and partly rejected them.
White agreed with Cousins that the Stroud parties do not have any ownership or other rights to a number of Simone’s recordings, and granted default judgment against them.
Simone’s estate, Brown, and Sony Music entered a settlement in October 2014 involving some of Simone’s recordings.
Then the case became more complicated, as Sony filed a cross claim in an attempt to rescind that agreement.
According to that document, which has been sealed, Sony paid Brown $390,000 for recordings “already owned by Sony Music,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Brown fired back against Sony , accusing it of “operating a subsidiary that massively pirates Nina Simone recordings.”
The subsidiary is media distributor The Orchard, which Sony acquired in March 2015. The Orchard distributes music and other media to online retailers.
Among other things, Brown claimed The Orchard distributed more than 80 Nina Simone albums without permission.
The parties entered another settlement last December, and after a settlement conference this week, agreed to dismiss those claims against each other.
The stipulation , signed by Judge White on Thursday, notes that the dismissal of those claims does not affect other pending litigation.
In a declaration filed this week, Brown said Sony asked for another settlement conference so the company can “renegotiate the signed settlement agreement and obtain further unilateral concessions from the Simone Estate and me.”
Brown said “there is no longer any case or controversy,” and asked the court for an order requiring Sony to show cause why the claims should not be dismissed.
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