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Island DefJam v. VMG SalSoul and Eddie Birdsong

Island DefJam v. VMG SalSoul and Eddie Birdsong

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Published by Mark H. Jaffe
Island DefJam brings an interpleader action against VMG Salsoul and Edwin Birdsong over royalties from the recording "Rapper Dapper Snapper" which was recorded by Birdsong.

Mark's notes: the essence of an interpleader action is that a "plaintiff" acknowledges that it owes money, but the entitlement of the money is disputed between other parties. The party bringing the lawsuit seeks to deposit the money with the court, and let the other parties fight it out.

VMG Salsoul is a plaintiff in numerous lawsuits over lawsuits.

For informational purposes only. Not legal advice. I am not representing any parties in this action. For more information about our practice, see:
http://torekeland.com/about/mark-h-jaffe
and legal tidbits on my twitter feed:
@MarkJKings
Island DefJam brings an interpleader action against VMG Salsoul and Edwin Birdsong over royalties from the recording "Rapper Dapper Snapper" which was recorded by Birdsong.

Mark's notes: the essence of an interpleader action is that a "plaintiff" acknowledges that it owes money, but the entitlement of the money is disputed between other parties. The party bringing the lawsuit seeks to deposit the money with the court, and let the other parties fight it out.

VMG Salsoul is a plaintiff in numerous lawsuits over lawsuits.

For informational purposes only. Not legal advice. I am not representing any parties in this action. For more information about our practice, see:
http://torekeland.com/about/mark-h-jaffe
and legal tidbits on my twitter feed:
@MarkJKings

More info:

Published by: Mark H. Jaffe on May 06, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/30/2014

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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
DAVID A. STEINBERG (SBN 130593)
das@,msk.com
ANt5REW C. SPITSER (SBN 255917)
mem@,msk.com
MITCflELL SILBERBERG & KNUPP LLP
11377 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90064-1683
Telephone: (310) 312-2000
FacsImile: (310) 312-3100
for Plaintiff
Island Def Jam Music Group
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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ISLAND DEF JAM MUSIC GROUP, a
division ofUMG RECORDINGS, INC.,
a Delaware Corporation,
r U 1 4 - 34 3 (2Z'/-

Plaintiff,
v.
VMG SALSOUL LLC, a Delaware
limited liability company; EDWIN
BIRDSONG, an indIvidual and d/b/a
EDWIN BIRDSONG PRODUCTIONS
and EDWIN BIRDSONG MUSIC; and
DOES 1-5, inclusive,
Defendants.
COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
  __________________________ _
COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
6068804.8
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
Knu
6068804.8
Plaintiff Island Def Jam Music Group, a division ofUMG Recordings, Inc.
('''IDJ''), alleges as follows:
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
1. This is an Interpleader action brought by IDJ, which seeks to deposit
with the Court the license fees already agreed upon by both of two competing
claimants to the ownership of the copyrights in the musical composition and
master recording entitled "'Rapper Dapper Snapper." The license agreed upon
relates to the use of a portion, or "sample," of the composition and master
recording of "Rapper Dapper Snapper" in a third sound recording to be released on
an album by one of IDJ's recording artists. Defendants VMG Sal soul LLC and
Edwin Birdsong, an individual doing business as Edwin Birdsong Productions and
Edwin Birdsong Music (collectively, "Defendants"), have claimed that they own
all right, title, and interest in the respective copyrights to "Rapper Dapper
Snapper." Moreover, both parties are currently engaged in pending litigation in
this district to determine the true holder of those rights. Because both Defendants
have already agreed upon the terms of the license, all that is left is for the Court to
hold in escrow the agreed upon license fees, which IDJ will deposit, until
resolution of the pending litigation and determination of the proper recipient of
those fees.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1335 because diversity exists between Defendants VMG Salsoul LLC (a citizen
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COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
Knu
6068804.8
of New York) and Edwin Birdsong (a citizen of California), the two claimants to
the property at issue in this Complaint, which is worth over $500 in value.
3. This Court is the proper venue for this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1391 and 1397 because Defendant Edwin Birdsong is a resident of this judicial
district. Likewise, this Court is the proper venue for this action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1391 and 1397 because Defendant VMG Salsoul LLC is subject to
general jurisdiction in the Courts of this district and therefore "resides" in this
district pursuant to Section 1397(c)(2).
THE PARTIES
4. PlaintiffIDJ is a division ofUMG Recordings, Inc. ("UMG"), a
corporation organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, having its principal
place of business in Santa Monica, California. IDJ is engaged in the business of,
inter alia, the production of musical sound recordings for sale and distribution.
5. IDJ is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendant
VMG Sal soul LLC ("VMG") is a limited liability corporation organized under the
laws of the State of Delaware, having its principal place of business in New York,
New York. VMG may also operate under the name and/or conduct business as
"Verse Music Group." Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges,
that VMG is a music publisher, which acquires, owns, and licenses music
publishing rights, master copyrights, writer royalty streams, and other brand related
assets.
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COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
Knu
6068804.8
6. IDJ is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendant
Edwin Birdsong, both in his individual capacity and doing business as Edwin
Birdsong Productions and Edwin Birdsong Music (collectively, "Birdsong"), is an
individual residing in Los Angeles, California, who has in the past worked as a
songwriter and performing artist.
7. The true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate,
associate, or otherwise, of defendants sued herein as Does 1 through 5, inclusive,
are unknown to IDJ, which sues said defendants by such fictitious names (the "Doe
Defendants"). If necessary, IDJ will seek leave to amend this complaint to state
their true names and capacities. IDJ is informed and believes, and on that basis
alleges, that the Doe Defendants claim an interest in the Rights (as defined
hereinafter) and/or entitlement to the License Fees (as defined hereinafter) that are
the subject of this Complaint in Interpleader.
FACTS APPLICABLE TO ALL CLAIMS
8. IDJ is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that in or
around 1981, Salsoul Records released an album entitled Funtaztik, embodying
songs both written and performed by Edwin Birdsong, including, inter alia, a song
entitled "Rapper Dapper Snapper" (the "Song").
9. IDJ sought to obtain a "sample" license for both the copyrighted
composition of the Song and the copyrighted sound recording embodying the Song
(collectively, the "Rights"), for use in one ofIDJ's artist's upcoming album
releases.
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COMPLAfNT IN INTERPLEADER
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
Knu
6068804.8
10. On December 21,2011, VMG filed a Complaint in United States
District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. CV 11-10559 RGK
(VBKx), against Edwin Birdsong, an individual d/b/a Edwin Birdsong Music (the
"Copyright Suit"). VMG brought claims for copyright infringement and breach of
contract arising out of a dispute over ownership of the Rights to the Song.
11. IDJ is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendant
VMG is the successor in interest to Salsoul Records.
12. In the Copyright Suit, both VMG and Birdsong claim ownership of
the Rights to the Song. The Copyright Suit is currently pending.
13. IDJ has reached an agreement with both VMG and Birdsong
regarding the material terms of its license of the Rights to the Song (the
"License"). Specifically, both Defendants expressly agreed to a one-time "buyout"
fee of$75,000 for the license of the sound recording of the Song, plus, in
consideration for licensing the copyright to the musical composition of the Song,
the parties have agreed to a 25% interest in the copyright to the reSUlting musical
composition to be created using the sample of the Song (the "License Fees"). On
that basis, IDJ has advised the Defendants that it is proceeding with its album
release in good faith reliance on their mutual consent to the License.
14. However, despite each Defendant's agreement to grant the License,
and to its material financial terms, VMG and Birdsong still both claim ownership
of the Rights in the Song, and dispute the other's authority to grant the License.
Moreover, although Birdsong is amenable to having the License Fees held in
escrow by either IDJ or a third party until the Copyright Suit is resolved, VMG has
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COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
1 been unwilling to agree to such an arrangement, and has demanded payment of the
2 License Fees directly from IDJ. IDJ is in no position to determine the actual owner
3 of the Rights, nor which of the Defendants is, in fact, the proper licensor, as that is
4 precisely the ultimate issue to be determined by the Court in the Copyright Suit.
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6 FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION FOR INTERPLEADER
7 [By IDJ Against All Defendants]
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9 15. IDJ repeats and incorporates by reference each and every allegation
10 contained in paragraphs 1 through 14, inclusive.
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12 16. IDJ has in its possession the License Fees, which have been agreed to
13 by both VMG and Birdsong.
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15 17. VMG and Birdsong have made conflicting demands for payment of
16 the License Fees. By reason of the conflicting claims ofVMG and Birdsong, IDJ
17 does not know which Defendant is entitled to receive the License Fees, or to which
18 Defendant it should pay the License Fees.
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20 18. IDJ does not claim any entitlement to retain any part of the License
21 Fees.
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23 19. Accordingly, concurrent with the filing of this Complaint, IDJ is
24 submitting $75,000 to be so deposited in the registry of this Court. In addition,
25 upon order of the Court determining the owner of the copyright in the musical
26 . composition "Rapper Dapper Snapper," IDJ will execute and submit appropriate
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg & 6
  n u ~ ~ __ +-____________________________ ~ __________________________ __
COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
6068804.8
1 documentation reflecting that said party owns a 25% interest in the musical
2 composition identified in the License that contains the sample of the Song.
3
4 WHEREFORE, IDJ prays for judgment against Defendants, and each of
5 them, jointly and severally, as follows:
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7 1. That Defendants be required to interplead and settle between
8 themselves their rights to the License Fees, including but not limited to in the
9 pending Copyright Suit;
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11 2. That IDJ be discharged from all liability to Defendants with respect to
12 the License Fees;
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14 3. That IDJ be discharged from all liability to Defendants with respect to
15 the Rights in the Song, except to the party whom the court shall adjudge to be
16 entitled to the License Fees;
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18 4. That each of the Defendants be restrained from instituting or
19 prosecuting any action against IDJ for the recovery of the License Fees;
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21 5. F or costs of suit incurred herein, including attorneys' fees to the
22 extent applicable; and
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II
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II
Mitchell 28
Silberberg & 7
Knupp-'-'-"--_+-___________ ----'-----------------
COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER
6068804.8
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Mitchell 28
Silberberg &
Knu
6068804.8
6.
proper.
F or such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and
MITCHELL SILBERBERG & KNUPP LLP
DAVID A. STEINBERG
ANDREW C. ITSER
""-_ ..
,r/·-
B y : ~ __________   - __________ __
David A. Steinber
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Island Def Jam Music Groun
8
COMPLAINT IN INTERPLEADER

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