Rosa Parks, OutKast and Sony-BMG settle

May 2005


Sony BMG and Rosa Parks, who became a symbol for the U.S. civil rights movement when she refused to yield her seat on a segregated bus in 1955, settled her lawsuit over the use of her name in an OutKast song title. The settlement included an agreement that a tribute CD featuring OutKast would be produced later this year by Sony BMG to honour the 50th anniversary of Parks’ arrest. The parties will also produce a television broadcast tribute to Parks, he said. Parks, 92, had claimed that the song “Rosa Parks” on a 1998 OutKast album amounted to false advertising under U.S. trademark law and intruded on her rights. OutKast and their label countered that the title was constitutionally protected free speech because it was related to the song’s lyric of “everybody move to the back of the bus.” The Supreme Court in December 2003 rejected this argument and upheld a federal appeals court decision that permitted Parks to pursue her lawsuit.


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