|July 3, 2012|
Previously published on June 2012
Ding ding ding! Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner of the courtroom, weighing in at 151 pounds, with a perfect 43-0 undefeated record, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr.! And in this corner, it's not Oscar de la Hoya, it's not Victor Ortiz, no, it's...rapper Anthony Lawrence Dash!
Let's have a look at the backstory, shall we? In 2005, Dash wrote a musical track entitled "Tony Gunz Beat." Meanwhile, following in the footsteps of other great athletes-turned-musicians, Mayweather set his sights on becoming a rap star. To that end, Mayweather incorporated Dash's track into his own rap song, called "Yep." The only problem was, Mayweather didn't ask for permission first.
The rumble began on March 30, 2008, when Mayweather played "Yep" during his entrance at the highly publicized World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. ("WWE") event, WrestleMania XXIV. It continued on August 24, 2009, when Mayweather again used "Yep" as his theme song during his appearance on WWE's RAW. To add insult to injury, both events were aired on pay-per-view and available for purchase on DVD. Moreover, "Yep" was included in advertisements for the RAW event and in numerous YouTube videos. Finally, Mayweather's record label, Philthy Rich Records, played "Yep" on the home page of its Web site.
Fed up with his song getting played without receiving payment, Dash delivered the first jab by filing a complaint in federal district court on April 26, 2010 against defendants Mayweather, his promoters, the WWE, and Philthy Rich Records. Dash alleged in his complaint that Mayweather infringed his copyright by copying, publicly performing, and publicly displaying "Tony Gunz Beat" without his authorization. For these alleged acts of infringement, Dash sought damages and an injunction.
Mayweather's promoters and the WWE tag teamed Dash by filing motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. But he "Dash-ed" his way out of trouble when the court ruled that he had made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction and denied the defendants' motions.
The discovery phase of the litigation became a barn burner in September 2011 when Dash sought sanctions against Mayweather after the boxer postponed a deposition at the last minute for health reasons, and then was seen partying at a dance club on the night the deposition was originally scheduled to take place. Dash submitted video evidence of Mayweather burning one-hundred dollar bills at the club and throwing money into the crowd. The judge deemed Mayweather's actions below the belt, and sanctioned him to forty hours of community service.
The sanction may have put Mayweather on the ropes, but this fighter is no quitter. He came back with a fatal uppercut to Dash in May 2012, when the court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment on the copyright.
First, the court held that Dash was not entitled to profits of the infringer because he "failed to present any evidence demonstrating a causal link between the alleged infringement and the enhancement of [the defendants'] revenue stream," as mandated by Fourth Circuit precedent. Second, Dash was not entitled to actual damages because he did not offer evidence to show that his song had an actual market value and also that Dash could not receive statutory damages because he did not register his copyright for "Tony Gunz Beat" until after the dates of the alleged acts of infringement. Finally, the court chose not to address whether Dash was entitled to injunctive relief because Mayweather indicated that he did not plan to use the song again, and because Dash now has a registered copyright, thus "the question presented would be in a different posture" should Mayweather use the song again.
With no right to damages, the court dismissed the case, and Dash was down for the count.
Will there be a Dash-Mayweather rematch? Only time will tell. For the time being, however, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. remains undefeated in the ring and on the microphone.