COPYRIGHT
Record labels, music publishing


A freelance musician called Redwin Wilchcombe has failed in his second attempt to sue Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz over the song ‘Weedman’, which appeared on the 2002 album ‘Kings of Crunk’. Wilchcombe has claimed that he co-created the track, and argues that he is therefore due a royalty share from it. He previously unsuccessfully sued for both copyright infringement and breach of fiduciary duty, but appealed the first court’s ruling. There was never any doubt that Wilchcombe was involved in creating the track – the issue was whether or not there was an assumption he would receive any ownership of it or a royalty share from it. Wilchcombe was in the studio with Jon and his posse when they were recording ‘Kings Of Crunk’. He said Jon had the original idea for ‘Weedman’ when one of the posse called their weed dealer. He adds that he then came up with the original hook for the track and, because Jon liked it, did more work on it, essentially authoring the final song in full.  So far so good for a royalty claim. The problem for Wilchcombe is that he handed over his track to Lil Jon so the rapper-producer could master it for his album, at the same time gave his verbal OK for the song to be used on the long player, but without making any claim for royalties from it. In fact he didn’t make any such claim until two years after the album had been released. Ruling on the appeal, Honorable Chief Judge Robert L Hinkle said this: “Wilchcombe does not dispute that he created the song for the album at Lil Jon’s request and that he instructed [for it to be] sent to Lil Jon for final mixing and inclusion on the album. Wilchcombe testified in his deposition that he understood Lil Jon would use the song on the album. In addition, Wilchcombe does not dispute that when he handed over the song, he never discussed that using the song would constitute copyright infringement”. The judge concluded: “The district court properly rejected these arguments for this reason, and we likewise refuse to give Wilchcombe a ‘second bite at the apple.’

From CMU Daily 26 January 2009