A Lawyer for Jay-Z appeared in court today (June 22) for a hearing in a legal dispute with Damon Dash over the rapper’s debut album Reasonable Doubt and shut down an attempt to auction off the release as an NFT.
On Friday (June 18), a legal dispute between the Roc-A-Fella Records’ co-founders erupted, after Jay-Z’s lawyers sued Damon Dash, claiming he was a thief, who was trying to sell “the copyright to Jay’s debut album Reasonable Doubt as an NFT at “a SuperFarm Foundation online auction” on June 23.
During the first hearing today (June 22) in regards to the dispute, Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro showed up, but reps for Damon Dash were completely absent.
Jay-Z’s lawyer claimed Damon was attempting to take sole ownership of Reasonable Doubt by selling the album as an NFT, but Dash does not own the copyright to the album, Roc-A-Fella Records does, even though Dash owns 1/3rd of the label.
Spiro referred to an unreleased press release Damon and SuperFarm drew up to hawk Reasonable Doubt as an NFT. According to Alex Spiro, Damon Dash was hoping to earn $30 million by selling Reasonable Doubt as an NFT through SuperFarm.
“They [Damon Dash and SuperFarm] inadvertently admitted to everything that we’re alleging. They refer multiple times in the press release that they are trying to sell, copyright,” Alex Spiro told Judge John Cronan. “They admit that they want the seller to profit from the future revenue, and for the buyer to profit from revenue which they have no right to do…they say over and over again that this is a new milestone in the history of NFT’s.”
Alex Spiro said Damon Dash was trying to resist their demands to stop selling Reasonable Doubt as an NFT, even after his lawyers were served with a cease-and-desist from Roc-A-Fella last week.
Judge Cronan said Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records would suffer irreparable harm if Reasonable Doubt was sold as an NFT and granted the temporary restraining order against Damon and SuperFarm.
“The plaintiff Roc-A-Fella Records has shown a likelihood of success on the merits, according to the declaration of Mr. Carter submitted by the plaintiff, Roc-A-Fella Records. Roc-A-Fella Records owns the copyright in Mr. Carter’s album Reasonable Doubt and Mr. Dash, the defendant does not. This is supported not only by the recorded declaration, but also by the contract between Mr. Carter, and Roc-A-Fella Records,” Judge Cronan ruled.
The judge also ruled that since Damon Dash is a shareholder in Roc-A-Fella Records, he had breached his fiduciary duty to the company, by attempting to convert an asset [Reasonable Doubt] for his own benefit, which amounts to unjust enrichment.
“The allegations suggest that Mr. Dash is attempting to sell something that he does not own. This was certainly caused hardship to [the] Plaintiff the alleged rightful owner of the copyright,” Judge Cronan said in his ruling.
“And also, if Mr. Dash, did this, it could cause confusion in the marketplace, regarding the owner of the album Reasonable Doubt, and as Mr. Spiro noted, this seems like a particularly relevant concern here, given the importance of protecting the public in this burgeoning new marketplace,” Judge Cronan concluded.
In recent reports, Damon Dash labeled Jay-Z a “bully” and claimed he was trying to become the sole owner of the rights to Reasonable Doubt after Jay-Z tried to buy out Dash’s one-third of RAF Inc., the record company, which owns the rights to the album, at a price Dash “deemed unacceptable.
The next hearing between Jay-Z, Roc-A-Fella Records, and Damon Dash is slated for July 1.