U.S. District Judge Warren Eginton of the District of Connecticut announced Monday, in a sealed document, that he was dismissing the three-year-old lawsuit in which 50 Cent had accused Rick Ross for using the 2003 Billboard-topping song on his “Renzel Remixes” mixtape. The sealed document was not made available, but attorneys for both rappers said the lawsuit had been dismissed.
Leron Rogers, Rick Ross’ attorney, told the Connecticut Law Tribune on Thursday that if Eginton had ruled against his client “it would have opened a flood of litigation.”
“I spoke to my client and he is happy that he can create content and is not subject to some new rule for which there is no basis,” said Rogers, partner with the Atlanta-based Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. “Curtis Jackson [also known as 50 Cent] tried to take the position that even though he does not own it [copyright or master recording of the song], he has a separate right of publicity claim. That is unheard of. No one has ever heard of that.”
Paul LiCalsi, one of 50 Cent’s three attorneys, said Thursday he would make a motion to the court asking it to reconsider, a precursor to filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. That motion would be made within 30 days, said LiCalsi, of the New York City-based Robins Kaplan. LiCalsi declined to elaborate on any other aspect of the case.
Rogers said, “50 Cent is very litigious and we anticipate the appeal. We think we will be successful in the appeal because 50 Cent does not own the recording and that is the main issue, He is the wrong party to bring the claim, He does not own the rights to the master recording or the underlying composition. This is a copyright case disguised as a right of publicity case.” The recording is owned by Shady/Aftermath Records.
Rogers added that while Eginton did not focus on the First Amendment in the sealed document, “that is another issue the Second Circuit could hang hits hat on. The First Amendment says my client can rap about whatever he wants to. We should win on the First Amendment issue alone. He had 50 Cent’s voice on less than 30 seconds of the entire album, which was over 100 minutes long.”
The two rappers have feuded for years and, Rogers said, “I think this [lawsuit] was clearly retaliation for the $7 million jury award. That is what we think.”
Rogers was referring to a jury award that 50 Cent was hit with in 2015. The jury awarded the money to Lastonia Leviston, the mother of Rick Ross’ children, for violating her privacy via an infamous “homemade sex tape.” Leviston had sued 50 Cent for privacy violations for posting a sex tape of her and her then-boyfriend Maurice Murray on his website in 2009. His face was blurred, Leviston’s wasn’t, and Jackson inserted himself on the video dressed as a pimp. 50 Cent later filed for Chapter 11 protection in New Haven.
Rogers said Ross “just wants to get past this legal issue with 50 Cent. No one wants to be involved in litigation. He has a new album coming out and is busy putting the finishing touches on it.”
In addition to LiCalsi, 50 Cent is also represented by attorneys Sherli Furst, a colleague of LiCalis’s, and James Berman of the Bridgeport-based Zeisler & Zeisler.