Downsound Records ordered to pay millions in damages for copyright breach

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Skatta and JoeDownsound Records CEO, Joe Bogdanovich and producer, Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell have been ordered by a judge to pay $JA15 million in damages to producer, Andre ‘Rookie’ Tyrell following a long-standing breach of copyright suit in which it was alleged Downsound used Tyrell’s Superstar rhythm on Specialist’s 2011 hit, Street Hustle (Phone Card) without consent.

The suit, originally filed in 2012, claims that a year earlier, Bogdanovich and Burrell created a beat for Specialist’s song named the Street Hustle rhythm but used many of the same adaptations his Superstar rhythm contained. According to Tyrell, he was never compensated for the use of his rhythm, which was not only used for a song, but for an advertising campaign based off the song.

Additionally, Tyrell insisted that Skatta and his publishing company, “falsely lodged and claimed 100 per cent share in the musical composition for the song with the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers,” according to the suit.

As a result, Downsound Records and Burrell have been ordered to pay Tyrell JA$9.5 million for statutory damages under the Copyright Act; $2.5 million for breach of moral rights and US$15,000 (JA$1,785,000) for general or compensatory damages.

In the ruling by High Court Judge Audre Lindo handed down last month, she said that, “this is not a case of mistake, but of a blatant and unapologetic use of the claimant’s (Tyrell) copyrights,” while sternly adding, “I agree with the submission of counsel (Tyrell’s attorney) that the evidence before the court demonstrates that the actions and/or inactions of the defendants have been nothing but contemptuous and/or calculated for their own selfish gain.”

Court documents show that in 2012, Bogdanovich and Burrell were to “immediately rectify any and all accreditation information, including with collecting societies…to reflect the claimant (Tyrell) as the writer/composer of his portion of the musical work contained in the said Street Hustle song and ‘Street Hustle’ rhythm.”

Despite the court order, Tyrell said he later discovered, when he made an inquiry the U.K-based Performing Rights Society for Music to register his interest in the song, that Downsound “apparently registered the infringing song under different names.”

Neither Bogdanovich nor Burrell have commented on the matter and reportedly did not contest the suit or the assessment of damages despite being served with papers.

 

 

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