50 Cent loses his legal battle with Rick Ross over the “In Da Club” remix.
According to Reuters, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit Jackson filed against Ross, accusing him of unlawfully exploiting his name and voice in the 2015 remixed song “In Da Club.” Ross used the song on his 2015 Renzel Remixes mixtape, and Fif sued him for $2 million over trademark infringement and said that his rights were violated.
Jackson’s “In Da Club” track was released on his top-charting album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin.” According to court documents, “In Da Club” was recorded in compliance with his former record label, Shady Records/Aftermath Records. The agreement specified that Jackson owned no copyright interest in “In Da Club,” Billboard reports. On top of that, Jackson also gave Shady/Aftermath the “perpetual and exclusive rights during the term of [the Recording Agreement],” and a non-exclusive right afterward that would allow the label to use Jackson’s name and likeness “for the purposes of trade, or for advertising purposes… in connection with the marketing and exploitation of the Phonograph Records and Covered Videos,” according to court documents, per Billboard.
The case was initially brought to a close in 2018 in a lower court when a judge ruled in Ross’s favor due to Jackson having signed away his rights and his right of publicity to Shady/Aftermath for the term of their recording agreement. This made him unable to take legal action against Ross over the song. The U.S. Appeals Court announced its decision in a 66-page document.
While the appeals court did find that Ross illegally used the song by not obtaining permissions from Shady/Aftermath or from Jackson, it concluded that it didn’t matter, as Fif has “surrendered his rights to the use of his name, performance, and likeness associated with the master recording of ‘In Da Club’ in connection with the advertising and marketing of ‘Phonograph Records.'” The court ultimately ruled that Jackson’s “right of publicity claim is preempted” because he “cannot assert a tort action based on the rights that he has contractually surrendered.”
In short: Ross may not owe Jackson, but he could face consequences due to copyright infringement because he never got approval from Shady/Aftermath. In its lower court decision, the appeals court ruled that Ross was “presumably liable for copyright infringement to Shady/Aftermath, but not to Jackson.” Jackson’s only other move would be urging Shady/Aftermath to sue Ross and collect damages based on Jackson being entitled to a royalty. He could also seek damages from shady/Aftermath of failing to protect Jackson’s right to royalties by suing Ross. Ross’ attorney, Leron E. Rogers, and Jonathan D. Goins released a statement saying, “Today is a victory for talented artists, as well as those seeking to license the use of music.”
“The Second Circuit’s opinion reaffirms the creativity of artists to freely express their performances in sampling or remixing of popular songs, while at the same time, still guaranteeing that those who seek to license such songs (from a publisher or copyright holder) may do so without necessarily having to separately obtain or contractually negotiate one’s right of publicity,” said the two lawyers. “Furthermore, Mr. Roberts’ remix of ‘In Da Club’ was never about Mr. Jackson — but was simply one of many remixes on his mixtape album, which also featured songs by Adele, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Lil Wayne. Artists often perform lyrics in sampling or remixing songs of other artists, as it has long been a staple of hip-hop music.”