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Dr.Dre v. Death Row (June 7, 2010)

Dr.Dre v. Death Row (June 7, 2010)

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Published by David Weiskopf

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Published by: David Weiskopf on Jul 20, 2010
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01/04/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Case No.
CV 10-1019 CAS (JEMx)
Date June 7, 2010
Title
ANDRE YOUNG pka DR. DRE v. WIDEAWAKE DEATH ROW
ENTERTAINMENT, LLC; ET AL.
CV-90 (06/04)
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Page 1 of 12
Present: The Honorable
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
CATHERINE JEANG
LAURA ELIAS
N/A
Deputy Clerk
Court Reporter / Recorder
Tape No.
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs:
Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Stephen Rothschild
Michael Holtz
Proceedings:

DEFENDANTS WIDEAWAKE DEATH ROW
ENTERTAINMENT, LLC & WIDEAWAKE
ENTERTAINMENT GROUP’S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR
FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF
CAN BE GRANTED (filed 4/22/10)

I.
INTRODUCTION

On February 11, 2010, plaintiff Andre Young pka Dr. Dre (“Dr. Dre”) filed the
instant action against Wideawake Death Row Entertainment, LLC; Wideawake
Entertainment Group, Inc.; Wideawake Holding Company, Inc; and Does 1 through 10.
Plaintiff alleges claims for (1) breach of contract; the following claims under the Lanham
Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq., for (2) false advertising, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a);
(3) trademark infringement, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1114; (4) trademark dilution,
pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); and claims for (5) misappropriation of the common law
right of publicity; (6) violation of Cal. Civil Code § 3344; (7) violation of the Unfair
Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. (“UCL”); and (8) imposition of
a constructive trust. On February 22, 2010, plaintiff dismissed Wideawake Holding
Company, Inc. The gravamen of plaintiff’s complaint is that defendants have failed to
pay him royalties on his music album “The Chronic,” among other works, and that
defendants have released a “remastered” version of the album, entitled “The Chronic Re-
Lit & From the Vault” (“Re-Lit”), as well as a "Greatest Hit" album, without his
authorization.

On April 22, 2010, defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed
his opposition to the motion on May 17, 2010. Defendants’ reply was filed on May 24,
Case 2:10-cv-01019-CAS-JEM Document 26 Filed 06/07/10 Page 1 of 12
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Case No.
CV 10-1019 CAS (JEMx)
Date June 7, 2010
Title
ANDRE YOUNG pka DR. DRE v. WIDEAWAKE DEATH ROW
ENTERTAINMENT, LLC; ET AL.
CV-90 (06/04)
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Page 2 of 12
2010. A hearing was held on June 7, 2010. After carefully considering the arguments set
forth by both parties, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
II.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to plaintiff, he is an “internationally renowned and immensely popular
composer, producer, recording artist and performer, with an excellent reputation among
the public and the critical community for his music.” Compl. ¶ 1. His critically
acclaimed and commercially successful works include his debut solo album “The
Chronic,” released in 1992 on the record label he co-founded, Death Row Records, Inc.

(“Death Row”). Id.Plaintiff alleges that when he formed Death Row in 1991, he orally

and impliedly granted Death Row a non-exclusive license to release sound recordings he
produced, composed and/or performed on, in exchange for royalties commensurate with
his status in the music industry (the “1991 Agreement”). Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff further
alleges, that in 1992, he orally granted Death Row a non-exclusive license to distribute
“The Chronic” and albums he produced for other artists, in exchange for Death Row’s
payment of a royalty of 18 percent of the suggested retail price on all copies of “The
Chronic,” and a 4 percent royalty on albums he produced for other artists (the “1992
Agreement”). ¶¶ 23, 24; Opp’n at 3. Then, in 1996, plaintiff allegedly entered into a
written agreement with co-owner Marion “Suge” Knight (“Knight”) whereby plaintiff
gave up his ownership interest in Death Row and quitclaimed to Death Row his
copyrights in sound recordings previously released by Death Row, including “The
Chronic” and the Dre Recordings. Compl. ¶ 25. Plaintiff alleges that in exchange, Death
Row agreed to pay plaintiff his royalties under the 1991 and 1992 Agreements, and not to
distribute “The Chronic” or any of the Dre Recordings except “in the manners heretofore
distributed” (the “1996 Agreement”). Id.; Opp’n at 4; Ex. 1. Plaintiff further alleges that
in 1996, Death Row had not distributed the material digitally and had no right to do so.
Compl. ¶ 28.

According to plaintiff, defendants bought the assets of Death Row from Death
Row’s bankruptcy estate on January 15, 2009. Id. ¶ 30. The purchase included the
copyrights to “The Chronic” and the other Dre Recordings, subject to the 1991, 1992 and

1996 Agreements. Id.Plaintiff alleges that in Spring 2009, he gave defendants actual
notice of their contractual obligations to plaintiff, including notice that the 1996
Agreement prohibited defendants from releasing “The Chronic” in any manner in which
Case 2:10-cv-01019-CAS-JEM Document 26 Filed 06/07/10 Page 2 of 12
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Case No.
CV 10-1019 CAS (JEMx)
Date June 7, 2010
Title
ANDRE YOUNG pka DR. DRE v. WIDEAWAKE DEATH ROW
ENTERTAINMENT, LLC; ET AL.
CV-90 (06/04)
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Page 3 of 12

it was not distributed prior to the 1996 Agreement. Id. ¶ 31. Then, allegedly without
plaintiff’s authorization, on August 31, 2009, defendants released and commenced
distributing “Re-Lit,” an album/DVD set that purported to include a “digitally re-
mastered” version of “The Chronic” and included bonus material different than the
original release, including interview footage and videos of plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 36-37. “Re-
Lit” allegedly has different cover art than the “The Chronic” and is distributed digitally.
Id.Plaintiff alleges that defendants have falsely advertised and promoted “Re-Lit” as
being “the way Dre wanted” the recording to be heard. Id. ¶ 37. In addition, plaintiff
alleges that defendants have released and distributed several “greatest hit” packages
containing plaintiff’s recordings, and have distributed his recordings digitally, in
violation of the 1996 Agreement. Id. ¶¶ 39-41. Finally, plaintiff alleges that defendants
have failed to account to plaintiff for any of the royalties due to him. Id. ¶ 38.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a
complaint. “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not
need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his
‘entitlement to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” Id.Stated differently, only a complaint that states
a claim for relief that is “plausible on its face” survives a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “The
plausibility standard is not akin to the ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.

In considering a motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept as
true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be
drawn from them. Pareto v. F.D.I.C., 139

F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). The complaint
must be read in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sprewell v. Golden
State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington,
51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). However
, a court need not accept as true
unreasonable inferences or conclusory legal allegations cast in the form of factual
allegations. Sprewell
, 266 F.3d at 988; W. Mining Council v. Watt
, 643 F.2d 618, 624
Case 2:10-cv-01019-CAS-JEM Document 26 Filed 06/07/10 Page 3 of 12

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