Jay Z defeats co-ownership lawsuit

April 24, 2015 2:18 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Rapper Jay Z and his entertainment company Roc Nation have defeated a lawsuit filed by Chauncey Mahan, a sound engineer who participated in the recording of one of Jay Z's albums.

In July 2014 Mahan filed suit in New York federal court, claiming that he played an integral role in the authorship of 45 of Jay Z's songs and deserves to be recognized and compensated for his work by co-ownership rights.

Mahan began working with Jay Z in the late 1990s, as an independent contractor. During this time he collected masters, outtakes and other unpublished material on his computer hard drive.

According to Mahan, in 2000 he told executives at Jay Z's record label Roc-A-Fella that he was in possession of these materials. He received no response until 2014, when he alleges that Jay Z and Roc Nation orchestrated a "sting operation" to seize the inventory from him. Jay Z's representatives apparently called the Los Angeles Police Department after arranging a meeting with Mahan at an Los Angeles storage facility and accused Mahan of being in possession of stolen property.

While Jay Z is said to have filed three separate criminal complaints against Mahan, including one for extortion, the engineer wasn't arrested and the criminal investigation was closed. Still, Mahan brought a lawsuit against Jay Z soon after, seeking a declaratory judgment under the Copyright Act for his part in Jay Z's music.

This week U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield decided that Mahan had waited too long to file his suit. She noted that someone with Mahan's musical industry experience would have known before last year that he was owed royalties on a song and that it "strained credulity" that Mahan had waited so long.

If you are in the midst of an ownership dispute it is important to retain an experienced business attorney. A lawyer can help protect your rights in case of litigation.

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