A ’60s pop band sued De La Soul for stealing a sample from their first album. The case settled for $1.7 million, but De La Soul has since had trouble getting their back catalog added to streaming services. The rapper and his band made his first albums available for free in 2014, but now are battling to have them added to services such as Spotify. In the meantime, they’ve avoided paying royalties by avoiding the legal battle by making them available for free.
Biz Markie’s Alone Again
The title track of Biz Markie’s sophomore album is a rather forgettable song. Although it harkens back to his previous hits, “Alone Again” is only halfway worthless. It’s a sloppy clone of “Just a Friend.” While the lyrics of the song are pretty straightforward about Biz being down on his luck, Markie tries to make the track funny by singing the chorus badly.
As part of the golden age of hip-hop, Biz Markie belongs to the same group of artists. His tracks were typically dripping with samples and quotes from other artists. This was especially true of “Alone Again.” His song was so loaded with samples and quotes that he was sued by Gilbert O’Sullivan’s record company for copyright infringement. The rap legend denied the claims, but his song is nonetheless a classic.
Although “Alone Again” was a major hit for Gilbert O’Sullivan in 1972, the song itself had no right to use it. Amid the lawsuit, Biz Markie failed to get the sample clearance that O’Sullivan had requested. In the meantime, the record company that had purchased the copyright to O’Sullivan’s record decided that Biz Markie had copied a snippet from the song without permission. Despite his legal failure to clear his song, he nevertheless decided to use it for his song.
The estate of Randy Wolfe, the singer of “Taurus,” filed a lawsuit against Petty over the remastered re-release of his song. Randy Wolfe, who passed away in 1997, had said in an interview with Listener magazine in the early 1970s that the song was similar to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. The band’s guitarist said he hadn’t heard “Taurus” until he heard it recently.
The plaintiff, however, argues that her claim is moot because the Wolfe Trustee hasn’t shown any evidence that it owns the copyright to Taurus. The defendants, however, argue that Skidmore’s testimony regarding a songwriter’s agreement and his lack of prior beneficial ownership have made the evidence inadmissible. The judge agreed, finding that plaintiff failed to establish any of the required elements of her claims.
The court’s ruling could drag on if the trial continues. The case could continue, as both sides will continue to argue over the details of the case. However, even if the jury rules against the defendant, the case is likely to drag on for a long time. A jury’s decision could be overturned if the trial continues. The court may even allow Malofiy to present his testimony.