A jury in Houston
Federal Court has found rapper Lil' Flip and Sony BMG Music Entertainment guilty
of willful copyright infringement.
Lil' Flip (real
name Wesley Eric Weston) was sued in Nov. 2004 for alleged unauthorized use
of three melodies on his major label debut, Undaground
The lawsuit, filed
in Federal Court in the Southern District of Texas, claimed that the melodies
were the creation of Tommy L. Granville, a songwriter and music producer based
out of Shreveport, Louisiana.
The jury verdict
found that Suckafree Records, Lil' Flip, his manager Estelle Douglass Hobbs,
Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Columbia Records, Loud Records, Lucky Publishing
and Hobbs Publishing willfully violated the copyrighted music of Tommy Granville,
when the Defendants included it on Lil' Flip's platinum-selling CD, Undaground
The lawsuit sought
$1.5 million in damages and an unspecified amount for alleged willful infringement
of Granville's copyrights.
The Houston jury
awarded Granville $150,000, the maximum statutory damages under the law.
Stacy also fined Sony $12,000 for their failure to adhere to the court's orders
to turn over financial documents.
pleased that the jury agreed that Tommy Granville's music was illegally taken
by these Defendants," Scott Hemingway, attorney for the plaintiff, told
AllHipHop.com. "Sony is one of the world's biggest enforcers of its copyright
rights and it files 1000's of copyright infringement lawsuits against Internet
file-sharers to protect its rights. It is nice to see the jury tell Sony and
the other Defendants that they should respect the copyrights of others the same
way they want their own copyright rights respected."
In a separate action
in Sept. 2004, NamCo America sued the same set of defendants for copyright infringement
over Lil' Flip's hit song, "Game Over."
In that lawsuit
filed in US District Court, Southern District of New York, Namco alleged that
their copyright was infringed upon when sounds from the game "Pac-Man"
and "Ms. Pac-Man" were included on "Game Over" and its remix.
That suit was settled
prior to going to trial.