A federal judge recently issued a ruling in favor of 1970’s British soul group Cymande, in a sampling lawsuit against the Fugees and Sony Music.
The lawsuit, which was filed by group members Steve Scipio and Patrick Patterson in March, claims the Fugees illegally sampled the song “Dove” on their 1996 album The Score .
In 1998, the two parties attempted to negotiate a settlement agreement.
Cymande accepted a royalty payment of $400,000 and Sony Entertainment attempted to settle. However, according to the lawsuit, members of Cymande denied that the $400,000 payment was for settlement.
Sony Entertainment claimed that in 1998 the parties “entered into a settlement” and that members of Cymande “ratified the 1998 settlement by accepting several hundred thousand dollars of Defendants’ payments and by seeking money under the terms of the 1998 settlement from Defendants’ foreign representatives.”
Judges from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the payments do not amount to “ratification of an unsigned agreement to settle an infringement dispute.”
“We determine that the Proposed Agreement was never ratified and that Plaintiffs should not be equitably stopped from pursuing their infringement claims,” the ruling stated.
The $400,000 payment must be repaid or subtracted from Cymande’s damages if they prevail on the copyright infringement claims.