Rap star French Montana has yet to see a dime from one of his best-known hits, according to court documents obtained by AllHipHop.com.
The rapper has been locked in a battle with an independent producer named Eddie Lee Richardson, who claims French Montana and Rico Love stole the beat and the concept for their song “Ain’t Worried About Nothin'” from his song “Hood Pushin’ Weight.”
Earlier this week, a judge gave the leg up in the lawsuit and throughout two critical components of Lee’s case.
First, the court ruled that French was innocent of willful copyright infringement because Lee failed to establish direct evidence that the rapper or anyone else involved in the production of “Aint Worried About Nothin'” copied the melody for “Hood Pushin’ Weight.”
Lee’s two remaining accusations—that French Montana infringed on his copyright in “Hood Pushin’ Weight” willfully and that he is entitled to injunctive relief barring the Bronx rapper from performing “Aint Worried About Nothin'” in the future were denied.
But the most shocking part of the legal battle came via an admission from French’s legal team. The rapper claims he hasn’t made any money from the hit song, which is certified platinum by the RIAA.
Even the judge was perplexed.
“Somehow—the record does not make entirely clear why – [French Montana] himself has received $0 in compensation “for sales of [Aint Worried About Nothin’ by distributors” and $0 from any “performances of…’ Aint Worried About Nothin’. Although the court is somewhat perplexed by these claims, [Lee] does not dispute them, and the court will not question them further,” Judge Nancy L. Maldonado wrote.
According to Lee, on October 7th, 2012, he uploaded his instrumental “Hood Pushin’ Weight” to SoundClick.com, a platform for distributing and sharing audio content online, allowing users to upload, promote, and share their work.
Fast forward to April 15th, 2013, approximately six months later, French Montana released the smash hit “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’.” The song quickly gained popularity, reaching number ten on the Billboard charts and leading to collaborations with prominent figures in the music industry, such as Lil Wayne, Puff Daddy, Wiz Khalifa, Miley Cyrus, and The Game.
On May 7th, 2013, French Montana shared the official music video for the song on his YouTube channel, accumulating over 93 million views to date.
Lee said he heard French’s version of the song and reached out to the rapper, who replied and said that while he wrote the lyrics, Rico Love and another group of producers were responsible for making the instrumental for the smash hit.
While French won a significant victory in the case, the rapper is still not in the clear.
Judge Maldonado ruled that the Copyright Act’s three-year limitations period restricts the scope of liability in the case to acts of infringement
occurring after April 5th, 2016.
And, because French acknowledged that he received notification of potential infringement, only a jury can decide whether his conduct after receiving the warning was reasonable.
The court said Lee has enough proof to sue French Montana for every time he performed the song after April 5th, 2016. According to French Montana, he has performed the song at least 378 times since then.