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
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
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.