Spoken-Word Pioneer Sues Music Publishers and Artists for Copyright Infringement

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Sony, Universal, and Warner Music, ROC Nation, Rita Ora, Notorious B.I.G named in lawsuit. According to complaint filed by New York Law firm, Waseme Associates, the owner of multiple copyrights, Mr. Abiodun Oyewole seeks to enforce his rights as the sole owner of songs infringed upon by music publishing consortiums and recording artists.

My goal is to seek justice for my client - says Attorney Nzengha Waseme.

Abiodun Oyewole, known in the music industry as Tunes By Dune, recently filed a sweeping lawsuit against several music publishing companies and recording artists. The lawsuit alleges multiple counts of copyright infringement and unjust content enrichment spanning three decades. As the owner of multiple copyrights, Mr. Oyewole seeks to enforce his rights as the sole owner of the song, When the Revolution Comes, and its lyrics.

The lawsuit alleges various instances of copyright infringement and subsequent unjust monetary gains by music publishing consortiums presided over by Universal Music Group, EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Kobalt Music Publishing, ROC Nation and Sony/ATV. The lawsuit also names notable hip-hop artists, such as the late Notorious B.I.G., Rita Ora, Busta Rhymes and Eminem.

According to the complaint filed by New York Intellectual Property Law firm, Waseme Associates, PLLC, in New York Southern District court, with a civil action number 1:16-cv-01912, beginning in 1993, Mr. Oyewole’s “Party and Bullsh*t” hook was utilized by Christopher Wallace a.k.a. “The Notorious B.I.G.” or “Biggie Smalls.” Mr. Wallace recorded and published the solo track “Party and Bullsh*t.” While Mr. Oyewole was preparing to file claims against Mr. Wallace, he was notified of artist’s death. “After Biggie, I thought it was over, and out of respect for his wife and mother, I decided not to move forward,” said Mr. Oyewole.

In 2012, recording artist and actress Rita Ora, released the song, “How We Do (Party),” which featured the “Party and Bullsh*t” hook. Subsequently, Busta Rhymes and Eminem’s 2014 collaboration, “Calm Down,” also used Mr. Oyewole’s hook. The lawsuit claims, once again, Mr. Oyewole’s work helped propel other artists to the top of the charts. Court documents lists more defendants that include ROC Nation, Kelly Sheehan, Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson, individually, and collectively, the Runners, Trac-N-Field Entertainment LLC, Andre Davidson and Sean Davidson, Monarchs Berry Gordy Jr., SONY/ATV Music, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd, Downtown Music Publishing LLC, Notorious B.I.G. Estate, a/k/a the Estate of Christopher L. Wallace, Universal Records, Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Justin Combs Company, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., p/k/a, Busta Rhymes, and Marshall Mathers, p/k/a Eminem, and a number of others.

Mr. Oyewole began as a spoken-word artist in the turbulent late 1960s Civil Rights movement. His work greatly influenced politically active artists of the day. As the founder of the pioneering spoken-word group, The Last Poets, Mr. Oyewole is credited with being responsible for having laid the foundation of the rap and hip-hop music genres.

The plaintiff is represented by Gregory Reed, a prominent Detroit attorney. “The Plaintiff claims copyright infringement, and seeks to impress a constructive trust,” said Mr. Reed. “And an accounting related to the incidents in question and the payment of punitive damages.”

Mr. Reed, entertainment industry icon and Entertainment Hall of Famer, has represented prominent Americans such as Rosa Parks. In 1999, the civil rights pioneer brought a lawsuit against the hip-hop group Outkast and their record company before the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Oyewole is also represented by notable New York attorney, Nzengha Waseme. According to Ms. Waseme, her responsibility is to undo the exploitation of the signature phrase, Party and Bullsh*t.

“The willful infringement ceased with Mr. Wallace’s death, just as Mr. Oyewole predicted. However, 15 years later, it appears that the Estate of Mr. Wallace revived and exacerbated the initial wrong, by reselling authorization that was not theirs to sell.” says Attorney Waseme.

As many in America are seeking justice, Ms. Waseme states that her goal is to seek justice for her client.

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Jeremy Stennett
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