Judge Halts Sales of Notorious B.I.G

A judge halted sales of Notorious B.I.G.'s breakthrough 1994 album

"Ready to Die" after a jury decided the title song used part of an Ohio

Players tune without permission.

The jury Friday awarded $4.2 million in punitive and direct damages to

the two music companies that own rights to Ohio Players recordings.

The sales ban imposed by U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell affects the

album and the title song in any form, including Internet downloads and

radio play.

The jury decided that Bad Boy Entertainment and executive producer Sean

"Diddy" Combs illegally used a part of the Ohio Players' 1992 song

"Singing In The Morning."

Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records, which owned the song rights,

have filed hundreds of lawsuits over "sampling," the practice of

lifting parts of old music for new recordings. Most were settled out of


The companies get most of their income from song royalties by their

artists, which include funk legend George Clinton, the Funkadelics and

the Ohio Players.

"We've just been battling this for such a long time," Armen Boladian,

owner of Westbound and Bridgeport said. "So many have been settled

because companies didn't want anything to do with it, and we knew we

were right."

The defendants, Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy LLC, Justin Combs

Publishing and Universal Records, plan to appeal. "We think (the

verdict) is without merit," defense lawyer Jay Bowen said.

The estate of Notorious B.I.G. was originally sued but was dropped

later as a defendant. The artist, born Christopher Wallace, was 24 in

1997 when he was killed in a shooting that remains unsolved.

The rotund New York rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, was one of the

most influential hip-hop artists of the 1990s. His albums "Ready To

Die" and the posthumously released "Life After Death" together sold

nearly 8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.