On Friday (March 21), an 8 person jury in Manhattan
federal court found Lyor Cohen, the Chairman of Island/Def Jam Music Group personally
liable for fraud, willful copyright infringement, and wrongful interference
The verdict stemmed from a lawsuit filed by TVT
Records over an album by Cash Money Cliq.
TVT claimed that Cohen told Gotti he didn’t have
permission to deliver the album to TVT and is seeking $30 million in damages.
"The verdict against Mr. Cohen, personally,
for fraud shows that there are some very serious problems confronting Def Jam
and Universal Music Group," said Peter Haviland, trial lawyer for TVT Records.
Kevin Liles, Vice President of The Island Def
Jam Music Group, testified at trial earlier in the month that he witnessed Cohen
tell Gotti "No f*cking way, we are not doing this project" around
August of last year, just before TVT was going to release the album.
The jury unanimously found both Def Jam and Lyor
Cohen personally liable for interference with TVT’s contract.
Cohen was also found personally liable, along
with Def Jam, for willful copyright infringement related to Def Jam’s distribution
of TVT’s copyrighted recording "Get tha Fortune" which appeared on
a DVD entitled "Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc." released in July 2002.
Cohen was also found liable for willful copyright
infringement related to the recording "The Rain," which Mr. Gotti
had made for TVT to be released on the CMC album but instead appeared on the
Def Jam release of the CD version of Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc.
Cohen denied knowledge that Gotti had been working
on the CMC project, despite the fact that the multi-platinum selling album of
Ashanti, released in April 2002 included in its artwork reference to the CMC
The artwork for the Def Jam-distributed CD Irv
Gotti Presents: The Inc mentioned the album and advertisements also ran in hip-hop
publications featuring Ja-Rule.
The same jury which found Cohen and Def Jam liable
will determine damages on April 28.
Def Jam lawyer Charles Ortner said he will appeal
the verdict on the grounds that Judge Victor Marrero refused key evidence to
be presented to jurors.