“The Lucious Lyon I knew would tell those idiots the streets aren’t made for everybody. That’s why they made sidewalks.” -Cookie Lyon
Every Wednesday night, Cookie Lyon on FOX’s hit show Empire shows us that the entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart and to succeed you have to be tough and constantly on your hustle. Apparently, hip-hop mogul Diddy has taught his adopted son, Quincy how to maneuver in these streets.
Quincy stopped by Power 105’s The Breakfast Club and spilled the tea on why he turned down the role of Hakeem on “Empire.” Quincy explained to Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy, “I pretty much booked the role. Dealing with a show like that, it breaks down theatrically and musically. Theatrically, there were no complaints. They didn’t really let me know that there was a music side that came with a contract. It just took everybody for a loop because we wanted to negotiate and change a couple of things and they were like, ‘nah.’”
According to Page Six, “Diddy kicked up a huge stink and called all the top brass at 20th Century Fox TV to get them to change their rules over music rights. He said there was no way his son was signing over his intellectual property.”
Actors on Empire are required to sign over music rights to the network. FOX benefits from the exploitation of music from the show, since it owns all the publishing and copyrights to the material. The network has partnered with Columbia Records to distribute music from the show on iTunes and Spotify.
FOX is definitely profiting from the sale of music from the show. “Keep Your Money” performed by Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal, made it to the 99 spot on the Billboard Top 100 Songs for the week of February 28, 2015. With Diddy “It’s All About the Benjamins.” Naturally, he would want his son to participate in the profit sharing of any music that Quincy performed or wrote for the show.
In the entertainment industry it is all about the deals. The fewer people that are required to sign off on a deal the faster a deal can close. It is common for networks and television producers to insist on retaining ownership of all original music created for a show because it make it easier for them to negotiate distribution contracts for the music. They do not have to go back to the artist to obtain releases and licenses to exploit the music on iTunes, commercials and other mediums.
Quincy’s other problem was with the 360 clause in the in the actor agreement for Empire. Under this clause, FOX would have received a percentage of the profits he generated from the sale of all of the music he created, his merchandising, and any endorsement deals he obtained. The rationale behind a 360 clause is that if it was not for the resources of the network or record label, the artist would not have been able to secure these other deals.
You have to respect a man who tells a major network “I don’t need it. You can keep your money,” because he believes in his own talent and the potential of his music.
In case you are wondering, I am definitely #TeamCookie. Catch #Empire on @FOXtv on Wednesday nights at 8pm CST.
Lights, camera, action…wait where are the actors? Interestingly, Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum have not made many press appearances to promote their new film Jupiter Ascending. One has to wonder if it was a ploy by the marketing executives at Warner Brothers to build suspense around the film. Jupiter Ascending, the latest from Lana and Andy Wachowski, directors of the Matrix has been veiled in secrecy. Very little was known about the film’s pilot and characters prior to its release.
Or is this a case of a failed marketing campaign because life happened. Channing Tatum and his wife had their first child last year. Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher also welcomed a baby into the world last year. As Mila explained, in a recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, “When I go back to work full-time and I have to have 17-hour workdays, I’m going to need somebody to come and help me because I can’t do both, but because I’m in a very specific place in my life where I could take time off, I did.”
Did Mila taking time off impact the promotion of Jupiter Ascending? Generally, when actors sign on to star in a film their contracts include a clause stipulating how many press appearances and advance screenings they have to attend. Skilled lawyers usually negotiate a limited time frame in which, an actor has to be available for film promotion. The initial release date of Jupiter Ascending was pushed back several months. It is possible that the actors were no longer contractually obligated to promote the film.
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The unique thing about being an entertainment lawyer is…find out in my recent interview with CBS Local Chicago, here:
Check out the latest video from J. Paye & Associates Client, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Journalist, Shamontiel Vaughn does a great job or recapping the “Biggest Trends in R&B of 2014…we can’t forget how many times Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran went from breakup to make up…J. Paye & Associates gets a shout out in the article.
Read it here:
Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, aired Saturday night and sent the internet into an uproar. Viewers took to their social media accounts and expressed extreme disappointment in the film.
One of the problems with the film is that executive producers were not able to obtain life story rights from Aaliyah’s estate. Generally, to make a film based on someone’s life producers need to acquire the story rights from the individual or individual’s estate. A life story rights agreement contains several different clauses such as the producer has creative discretion to determine how to depict the story of the individual’s life. The life story rights agreement also gives the producer the ability to tell the individual’s story in different mediums such as, film, television, and theater. Sometimes, the agreement will give the individual the right to consult on the project.
Another way, to make a film based on someone’s life is to gain rights to a book based on that person’s life. That was the case with the Lifetime Aaliyah biopic. The film was based on author, Christopher John Farley’s book, Aaliyah: More than a Woman. Wendy Williams, who was an executive producer of the biopic commented about this on her talk show. Given all the negative feedback, I wonder if Mr. Farley is regretting granting Lifetime the movie rights to his book.
The second problem with the film is that Aaliyah’s estate prevented Lifetime from acquiring the rights to Aaliyah’s music – so none of the singer’s original songs were included in the movie. In most cases, it is considered copyright infringement to use music created by someone else without their permission. The executive producers of the Aaliyah biopic resorted to using some of the covers she did, like the Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love)” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give it Up,” since they were able to obtain a license for these songs.
As one viewer posted on Twitter
Hopefully, fans can get an Aaliyah biopic do over. It would be nice to see a film that base on life story rights that have been obtained from Aaliyah’s estate, licenses classic Aaliyah songs fans love, and allows her family, Missy Elliot, Timbaland, and Dame Dash to consult on the project.
FOUR LOVE & LEGAL LESSONS LEARNED FROM LOVE & HIP HOP NEW YORK SEASON 4
This season of Love & Hip Hop New York played out like the title of cast member, Brian “Saigon” Carenard’s sophomore album, The Greatest Story Ever Told 2: Bread & Circuses. We saw Saigon try to work on his relationship with Eric Jean, the mother of his son. Then there was the whole love triangle between rapper-turned-manager Peter Gunz, his wife Amina Buddafly, and Tara Wallace, the mother of his two sons. Joe Budden tried to win Tahiry back. Yandy embraced the challenges of being a single parent, while her fiancé, Mendeecee Harris was in jail awaiting trial on federal drug trafficking charges. Of course, we cannot forget the Rich Dollaz, Erica Mena and Cyn Santana love triangle.
Despite all of its drama and craziness, Love & Hip Hop New York Season 4, provided some valuable legal lessons.
LEGAL LESSON #1 – IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Many of us may not be familiar with Saigon’s professional background prior to Love & Hip Hop. He played aspiring rapper Turtle in HBO’s hit series Entourage. Siagon also signed a record deal with Atlantic Records in 2004. As is common in the music industry, creative differences arose between Siagon and Atlantic. Siagon explained to Billboard, “It’s not that I didn’t want to put out music, but Atlantic wanted me to do ringtone songs, but they didn’t sign me as a ringtone artist.” He added, “That he was left without much support when, the A&R rep who signed him, Kyambo Hip-Hop Joshua left to join Columbia records three months afterwards.”
Saigon hired a lawyer to help him get released from his contract with Atlantic. In 2008, after numerous delayed release dates for his debut album, Saigon was finally let go from his contract. According to Rolling Stone, “Saigon walked away with 100% ownership of his [unreleased] album The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Like Saigon, many emerging artist are eager to land that coveted record label deal and fail to scrutinize the contract terms. Some of Saigon’s contract anguish could have been alleviated if he had negotiated a man main clause into his contract. A main man clause stipulates that when a certain individual leaves the record label the contract terminates.
Even though, an artist signs a recording agreement the record label does not have an obligation to release the artist’s album. Saigon should have had a clause guaranteeing the release of his debut album incorporated into the contract. Or at the very least, he should have negotiated a clause that allowed him to go to another label if his album was not released.
Most record label contracts contain work-for-hire clauses, which states all music recorded by the artist is owned by the record label. It would have been in Saigon’s interest to request a contract clause that allowed him to regain ownership of all the masters he recorded, if he and the record label parted ways. This way he would have still been able to exploit the masters even though he was no longer signed to Atlantic. Thankfully, his lawyer was able to secure this in his release agreement.
LEGAL LESSON #2 – ASK BEFORE YOU BORROW
So Tell me where you from
Uptown baby, Uptown baby
We gets down baby, up for the crown baby
Who can forget the infectious hook from Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq’s hit single “Déjà Vu.” The song’s track contained an unauthorized sample of Steely Dan’s “Black Cow.” Steely Dan brought a lawsuit against the rap duo and was awarded a six figure settlement. They also received all of the publishing rights to “Déjà Vu” and 90% royalties for the song. As a result, Love & Hip Hop cast member, Peter Gunz has been unable to financially profit from the song.
Sampling music is common place in the hip-hop industry. However, under the law, an artist is required to obtain two types of copyrights prior to sampling a song, a sound recording copyright (typically owned by the record label) and a musical composition copyright (owned by the songwriter or publishing company). The fees to license a song/sample varies greatly.
The track to “Déjà Vu” was produced by Brian Kierulf and Joshua Schwartz of KNS Productions. A producer agreement could have helped Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq to avoid the “Déjà Vu” fiasco. Producer agreements often have clauses requiring the producer to provide proof that any sample used in a track has been cleared. An indemnification clause allows the artist to recover legal fees and cost from the producer if the artist is sued for use of an uncleared sample.
Check out this clip from the “Classic Albums” documentary series showing Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen singing along to “Déjà Vu” while discussing the making of Black Cow.
LOVE LESSON #1 – LOVE IS NOT A YO-YO
I could not end this blog post without providing a summary of my Secretary, Yvette’s insights on this season of Love & Hip Hop New York. I give the legal and Yvette provides the real.
Seeing as how today is Valentine’s Day it’s fitting Yvette chose to provide some love advice
Yvette first love lesson, “When you love someone, you can’t treat them like a yo-yo and use them only when you are in need and then throw them away, and expect them to still be there.”
LOVE LESSON # 2 – LOVE IS LIKE A FRAGILE PACKAGE
Yvette’s second love lesson is, “Love is like a fragile package. You must handle it with care. Your goal is not to break it or hurt it and that is how you should strive to treat the person you love at all times.”
The J. Paye & Associates team wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Disclaimer: This blog post does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an entertainment or intellectual property lawyer to discuss your legal needs.
Happy New Year! In 2013, I was a little lax about updating the J. Paye in Brief blog due to the deamnds of being a lawyer. My goal for this year is to be more consistent in bringing you interesting entertainment and celebrity stories with a legal spin. Let’s get started with the first post of 2014.
It’s a new year and a time when many of us make resolutions. Maybe, your resolution is to become a successful blogger and entreprenuer. Celebrity Blogger, Necole Bitchie went from being unemployed and sleeping on the couches of friends/family to creating a thriving blog and brand. It took a lot of hardwork and sacrifice on her part to start realizing her business goals. As Necole says, “It takes time to get that breakthrough.”
Necole Bitchie was recently interviewed on Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club.” She talked about some of the legal challenges she had to overcome. In the interview, she candidly talks about receiving cease and desist letters for using an unlicensed photo of Jay-Z and Beyonce on her blog.
In this digital age, there are several misconceptions about downloading and using pictures and video from the Internet. One common misconception is if an image is on the Internent, it is in the public domain and no permission is required to use the image. Or if an image can be downloaded from the Internet, it can be used without permission.
The reality is, once a photo or other image is created it is automatically copyrighted. Once an image is copyrighted permission is requried to use it. Copyright law prohibits both accidental and willful copyright infringement. If you use a picture from the Internet on your blog without permission, you can be liable for damages even if you did not know the picture was copyrighted.
How can you use photos on your blog, website, or online magazine without infringing on someone’s copyright? One option is to hire a professional photographer. Although, you hire a photographer to take headshoots of you or produce imagery for your website, that does not necessarily mean you own the rights to the final images. Ask the photographer to sign a work-for-hire agreement that stipulates copyright ownership of the final images belong to you. Or if the photographer already has photos you like ask if they will license them to you on a exclusive or non-exclusive basis. A entertainment or intellectual property lawyer can help you with these agreements.
There are sites like istockphoto, getty images, and others that offer stock photos that can be licensed or purchased for a fee. As Necole mentioned, in her interview licensing multiple photos can become expensive…especially if your business is in the startup phase and has limited capital. A cost effective alternative, is to use your camera phone to capture your own photos and videos to use on your blog/website.
Here’s to putting in the time and work necessary to get your breakthrough in 2014!
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this post does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney to discuss your legal needs.
As a fellow African and lawyer, I was honored to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by speaking on a panel at an Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom advance screening, which was held on the night of his passing.
J. Paye Talks All Things Love & Hip Hop Atlanta
By now, you can probably tell that I am a reality TV junkie. When you have a job that requires intense use of your brain cells, mindless television is a welcomed distraction.
It’s been awhile since I talked about Love & Hip. A lot of the blogs and media outlets have commented on how Love & Hip Hop Atlanta is ratchet TV and portrays negative stereotypes of the black community.
I am not going to comment on all that, but the show does depict many different legal issues. Like, when Erica and Scrappy called off their engagement. Did Erica have a legal obligation to give back the ring? Or can Rashida use footage of Kurt cheating, their arguments over finances and Kurt suggesting she have an abortion as proof of irreconcilable differences in a divorce proceeding. And also, what recourse does DJ’s Baby Dre and Traci Steel have against their shoe store business partner, who ran away with their money. These are all interesting questions and may be discussed in another blog post.
What I really want to talk about is the whole Stevie J and Josline fiasco. First off, Josline should have read the talent management and producer agreement before signing it. What really baffles me is why she would let Stevie J hold on to the signed contract without making a copy for herself. I guess these things happen when business and pleasure are mixed.
Josline is not happy with the way Stevie J has been managing her career. She wants out of the contract she signed with him. According to Stevie J, Josline is signed to him for life. (Although he did say once this season that, maybe Josline is signed to him for 6 years).
This is a common issue I see in my law practice. The first step is to see if the manager, producer, record label, etc. will voluntarily release you from the contract. It’s good to get a written release. If this fails, see if one of the contract defenses duress, impossibility, or the contract is unconscionable applies.
In Josline’s situation there are facts to argue that the management contract is unconscionable. Josline had very limited experience in the music industry. Stevie J is a seasoned industry executive. He created hit singles for Mariah Carey, P. Diddy and Eve. He is also older. Josline could argue that Stevie J took advantage of her inexperience. It’s very likely a court would find a contract indenturing Josline to Stevie for life unconscionable. Unless, the lifelong commitment was a marriage. It looks like Josline is really pushing to get married to Stevie.
The last option is to wait out the contract term. Many artists often find themselves in this position, when there has been a breakdown in the relationship with the label or management.
Yvette in Brief
We strive to give two viewpoints in this blog. My administrative assistant, Yvette always has dead on insight and she commented on the last Love & Hip Hop blog post. She feels Kurt is tired of being married and just wants to be a free man. He has been with Rashida since they were 18. Yvette believes, Kurt has been hostile to Rashida in order to get a free pass to cheat, which is something he’s had on his mind for awhile. You noticed he went in the room with not one but two girls. Yvette’s advice is for Rashida to leave Kurt, but realizes its easy for her to say because Kurt is not her husband.
As for Stevie J and Mimi…Yvette said, Stevie was quick to accept the car keys back from Mimi. He did not even offer them back to her probably because it was time for him to return his “rental.” I can’t believe Yvette thinks Stevie gave Mimi a rental car as a gift.
That’s it for all things Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Season 2.