On August 25, a San Mateo County court will hold a fairness hearing over a nationwide class action settlement over iPod batteries that will provide $50 coupons for class members and $2,768,000 in fees for the attorneys. Because the lawsuit was filed before the Class Action Fairness Act took effect, the state court does not have to comply with the new federal requirement that attorneys’ fees reflect the actual redeemed value of the coupons, rather than the face value, one of many sensible provisions of the Act that trial lawyers, the New York Times, and dozens of prominent Democrats (including leading 2008 presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards) opposed. In honor of this fairness hearing (as well as in honor of a pending lawsuit alleging that Apple is monopolizing the music market by selling music in a proprietary format), Overlawyered presents the Overlawyered iMix:
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1. The Verve, “Bittersweet Symphony.” The Verve’s band name reflects a change incurred by a lawsuit over the original band-name, “Verve”; when they finally got a big hit in “Bittersweet Symphony,” they were sued by ABKCO for their use of four bars from the symphonic version of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” and turned over all the royalties in settlement, getting only a token for the forty-seven tracks they added to the composition.
2. The Tokens, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” In 1996, the Tokens belatedly sued over their 1961 contract, complaining they had been deprived of royalties. As we documented Jun. 14, 2000, their attorneys were sanctioned for trying to manufacture evidence to keep the suit within the statute of limitations.
3. Gilberto, “The Girl from Ipanema.” Heloise Pinheiro inspired this 1960s hit, and was sued by the songwriters when she opened a boutique with the same name. (Aug. 15, 2001)
4. Aqua, “Barbie Girl.” Mattel sued over the song and lost; MCA countersued for defamation, complaining about Mattel’s use of the term “theft,” and also lost. Judge Kozinski wrote an entertaining opinion.
5. JibJab, “This Land Is Your Land.” Woody Guthrie’s heirs threatened suit, and backed off under bad publicity. (Jul. 29, 2004)
6. John Fogerty, “Centerfield.” Play it loud, in honor of Fogerty’s victory in a lawsuit accusing him of injuring a concertgoer’s hearing. (Aug. 12, 2004)
7 & 8. Janet Jackson, “What’ll I Do”; George Michael, “Waiting For That Day.” Jackson sang “Hey hey hey, that’s what I say,” Michael sang “You can’t always get what you want,” and both had to pay the Rolling Stones part of the rights to their songs to settle a resulting lawsuit claiming rights to those respective seven-word combinations. (Allen Klein of ABKCO, was not only behind these lawsuits and the Verve lawsuit mentioned in #1, but was also involved in a 1970 lawsuit between Paul McCartney and the rest of the Beatles.) Jackson went on to be sued over her breast exposure at the Super Bowl. (Feb. 5, 2004 and links therein)
9. Snoop Dogg, “Pimp Slapp’d.” Another sampling lawsuit, this one based on an answering-machine message. (Feb. 5, 2004)
10. Trick Daddy, “I’m a Thug.” This album was the subject of class-action lawsuits alleging that the clean version wasn’t sufficiently clean. (Dec. 13)
11. Eminem, “Brain Damage.” DeAngelo Bailey only subjected himself to more bad publicity when he sued over his presence in a song about bullying. (Apr. 18)
12. Eminem, “Guilty Conscience.” A sample on this song resulted in a 2003 lawsuit. (Smoking Gun, Sep. 16, 2003).
13. Beastie Boys, “Pass the Mic.” The band won a lawsuit over their use of a four-note flute sample, which you can hear in the 30-second free clip. Newton v. Diamond (9th Cir. 2004).
14. OutKast from Aquemini. Rosa Parks, under the influence of publicity-seeking attorneys happy to squander her civil-rights legacy in ludicrous litigation, sued the band over the song “Rosa Parks,” got a sympathetic Sixth Circuit to rule in her favor in an appalling decision, and this might be why the popular song is not on iTunes. (Apr. 15)
What litigation-related songs should be on the next edition of the Overlawyered iMix?