Jack Urbont, who created music for ‘The Marvel Super Heroes‘ television show in the ’60s has won a lawsuit over sampling. The three-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Urbont against rapper Ghostface Killah ended with a New York judge entering a default judgment in favour of the plaintiff. According to Urbont’s 2011 lawsuit, Ghostface Killah (real name: Dennis Coles) sampled the “Iron Man Theme” on two tracks of the rapper’s second album, Supreme Clientele.
It was no easy matter suing Wu-Tang Clan member Coles – initially he could not be located and the court allowed service by a publication notice – and then his lawyer requested permission to withdraw from the case on the grounds he hadn’t been paid and that his client refused to communicate with him. Ghostface then failed to show up for a deposition, which led to a warning from the judge about sanctions and a default judgment. With Coles still AWOl, Urbont sought a default judgment as well as fees and expenses, and this was granted by U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald. Urbont’s attorney Richard Busch said “As far as Mr. Coles (Ghostface) is concerned, we will now submit evidence on damages to establish actual and statutory damages for willful infringement of Mr Urbont’s composition, and to establish our entitlement to actual and punitive damages for the willful infringement of Mr. Urbont’s sound recording. The default judgment does not apply to Sony, so the claims against Sony remain to be litigated.”
Busch has also indicated that word that he will be pursuing punitive damages for the wilful infringement of the sound recording. As the recordings are pre-1972 and protected by state and Urbont case will now figure out what damages are owed for misappropriating a pre-1972 sound recording. Coles may be hard to pin down but any damages awarded may be easier to collect from his royalties from his solo career and his share of Wu-Tang Clan royalties.