Lawsuits are no joke. They involve a bunch of people, paperwork, time, and not to mention, lots and lots of money. Nothing new here. though. Lawsuits have always been linked to the music industry, partially due to the contracts artists sign, often without knowing what they're actually getting themselves into. In other cases it's due to the contracts they didn't sign, copyright issues, creative ownership, or sexual assault claims. It's no secret that if you're an artist, you let yourself be influenced and inspired by the work of those who came before you, but if you're not careful, your hard work can be seen as plagiarism... and no one likes a copycat. Frank Ocean
's most recent lawsuit against his Blonde
album producer Om'Mas Keith and Kendrick Lamar
being sued over their "All The Stars" music video, has left us wondering who is next, because no one seems to be safe. Barbra Streisand, who was linked to a pretty ridiculous lawsuit, once said "Somebody does something you don't like, you tell ‘em!" and that's exactly what the following lawsuits are all about. Here, we have selected some of the juiciest lawsuits in the music biz you might have forgotten about.
10. TLC vs. Perri "Pebbles" Reid
For being one of the most iconic girl groups of the 1990s, the girls of TLC reportedly only made $50,000 a year. This was mainly due to the contract that the band members signed with then manager Perri "Pebbles" Reid, which gave her ownership of the band's name. Not only that, Reid also got a percentage of their publishings and bound the girls to her for eight albums. Reid put the girl group in a "360 deal" that gave her a chunk of every penny TLC made. Seems very unfair when Reid was never on stage with them, or on tour, or even spent half of the time the girls did in the recording studio. Eventually, the TLC members paid Reid $3 million, which is about $1 million each, in order to regain ownership of their band name.
9. JoJo vs. Blackground Records
When you're young, starting your career, and a record label offers you a deal, you usually say yes and think that it's the best decision you can make. Unfortunately for JoJo, that wasn't the case. The deal she made with Blackground Records in 2003 ended up being the biggest mistake of her career. The label was responsible for launching Aaliyah to stardom so you can't really blame JoJo for choosing them to begin with but thankfully, the label no longer exists. They did manage to sell millions of copies of her first two albums, but when the time came to release more albums they kept delaying them for unknown reasons. Thanks to her seven-album deal, JoJo continued writing and recording dozens of songs even though she was prohibited from releasing anything without the label's approval. They took so long to approve anything that the singer found herself forced to sue them for her release, which she won in January 2014. If you ever wondered where she had disappeared to, this might be your answer. She was basically held hostage by the record label for more than seven years.
8. Prince vs. His Fans
Back in 2014, Prince found it suitable to sue 22 internet users who also happened to be fans of his. The mostly anonymous defendants were accused of engaging in "massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince's material", with each web page contributing to "up to thousands of separate acts of infringement and bootlegging." The main targets were websites with links to download decade-old live recordings. Most of the accused webpages were aimed at Prince's most obsessive fans. The singer later came to his senses and dropped the whole case. He was then interviewed and when asked about the matter he had this to say: "Nobody sues their fans", and added "I have some bootlegs of Lianne [La Havas] but I wouldn't sell them. But fans sharing music with each other, that's cool." Except, he did sue his fans when they weren't even selling the content but actually just trying share his music with one another.
7. P. Diddy vs. Valerie Turks
This one is just a little too ridiculous. In 2011, a woman by the name of Valerie Joyce Wilson Turks filed a $1 trillion lawsuit against Diddy, aka Sean Combs. She accused the rap mogul of causing 9/11, putting her child in the hospital, and stealing a poker chip from her worth "100 zillions of dollars." She believed that Diddy, his ex girlfriend Kim Porter, and LAPD brutality victim Rodney King were behind the 9/11 attacks. She could have stopped the claims there but she also claimed to have once dated the rapper and have a son together. She also sought out a restraining order against Diddy -- the judge quickly denied it but set a hearing for the case which Turks obviously lost. She wanted $900 billion for child support and $100 billion in damages. Damn girl, nice try.
6. Slipknot vs. Burger King
In 2005, Burger King launched a marketing campaign for their then new chicken fries in which they used a masked band known as Coq Roq. The band was supposed to resemble badass chickens but the brand apparently "blatantly copied" several of Slipknot's signature masks and the real life band was not happy about the matter. Slipknot then filed a suit against Burger King and the ad agency for infringing on their trademark. Burger King filed a countersuit arguing Slipknot themselves were a parody of other masked bands that were also being spoofed in the campaign. Both sides eventually dropped the charges and the ad campaign ran its course. What chicken fries and metal masked band have to do with each other to begin with, we'll never know but this lawsuit will forever bind the two together.
5. Radiohead vs. Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's fifth studio album, Lust For Life
, was one of the best selling albums of 2017. One of the standout songs was "Get Free," which happened to be co-written by Del Rey. If you've ever heard the slow, haunting tune you might hear similarities to Radiohead's "Creep." Del Rey acknowledged the similarities herself and went on Twitter to say that she had not been directly inspired by "Creep" and that she had offered Radiohead 40 percent of the songwriting royalties generated by "Get Free," but that the band turned it down because they wanted the full 100 percent.
4. The Hollies vs. Radiohead
Oddly enough, Radiohead's "Creep" gained the band a lawsuit against them by The Hollies. Radiohead was sued by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood, who were members of the ‘60s and ‘70s band The Hollies, best known for their 1969 hit "The Air That I Breathe" which was written by the two. The songwriters believed that "Creep" heavily relied on the melody from "The Air That I Breathe" and so did the court, because "Creep" is now credited to "Radiohead, Albert Hammond, and Mike Hazlewood." They all earn royalties anytime "Creep" is purchased or played on the radio and if the Del Rey lawsuit goes a certain way, they'll get royalties for "Get Free" as well. I guess everyone is just out here trying to make a little more money and protect what they believe is theirs.
3. Spotify vs. Everyone
Spotify may be the world's biggest streaming service but it doesn't make it everyone's favorite. Earlier this year, Spotify was sued for a total of $1.6 billion by Wixen Music Publishing, which represents the works of artists such as Neil Young
, Tom Petty
, the Black Keys
, and Janis Joplin. The publishing company prides itself as "tough negotiators" which is probably what facilitated their huge lawsuit against Spotify. Not too long ago Spotify had just reached a $43 million settlement to a class action lawsuit filed by songwriters Melissa Ferrick and David Lowery, the frontman of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven
. The Sweden-based streaming service can't seem to catch a break and you can read more about it here
2. Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams vs. Marvin Gaye
In 2014, the Estate of Marvin Gaye sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement over the 2013 pop banger "Blurred Lines." The song was an infringement on Gaye's 1977 "Got to Give It Up." Aside from Thicke and Williams being named in the lawsuit, so was guest rapper T.I. but his named was cleared in 2015. The hearings were all over tabloids as the jury found them guilty of unlawfully copying "Got to Give It Up" and ordered the pair to pay the Gaye family $5.3 million which was actually decreased from the initial $7.3 million and awarded the Gaye's 50 percent of the song's future royalties. It was one of the largest payouts in music-copyright history. In an interview it was said that the two wanted "Blurred Lines" to sound like "Got to Give It Up" but we are sure they didn't expect for this to happen.
1. Kesha vs. Dr. Luke
In 2014, Kesha sued producer Dr. Luke, seeking to void all their contracts. The lawsuit claims that the producer, Dr. Luke aka Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, had sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused the singer to the point that she nearly lost her life. That caused the producer to counter sue and the first big decision made in these cases was when a New York judge denied Kesha a court injunction that would have allowed the singer to record new music apart from her record label, Sony Music, and Dr. Luke. It was said that the singer didn't want to initially say anything against him out of fear and that she believed he would carry out his threats because he has the power and money to do so. The singer had this to say on the matter: "All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused. This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract — it was never about getting a bigger, or a better, deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser."