George Clinton Ordered By Court To Sell Songs To Pay Legal Debt
George Clinton is undergoing more legal woes, this after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that attorneys owed money by the musician will profit from the sale of Clinton’s songs. A court-appointed receiver will sell four master recordings from the funk legend’s vast catalog in order to pay down a $1.8 million debt.
The law firm Hendricks & Lewis represented Clinton between 2005 and 2008, and say Clinton did not pay them for services. Clinton’s original tab with his former attorneys was over $3.3 million, of which the $1.8 million went unpaid according to their claims. Clinton and the attorneys have been battling in and out of court over the monies owed, sparking a deep examination of other factors regarding copyright laws.
The songs “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Hardcore Jollies,” “Uncle Jam Wants You” and “The Electric Spanking of War Babies,” will all be sold as Clinton wasn’t able to claim full ownership as the songs were considered “works made-for-hire” by the Court. Clinton has claimed over the years that other parties have forged papers and documents that blocked him full ownership of his masters and song rights. He hired Hendricks & Lewis originally to help him chase down those he felt wrong him on the business side.
A Washington district court confirmed an arbitration award prior to this latest ruling and the case went into the judgment phase to collect funds owed. Clinton countered by accusing the law firm of malpractice, with the attorneys pushing for the sale of the songs to satisfy the judgment debt.
Clinton has claimed that the transfer of rights to his recordings was involuntary, which would protect him under the law. However, since Clinton’s contract with Warner Bros. lists him as an “employee-for-hire” and then the label later filing the works as “works-made-for-hire” removes any strong legal argument Clinton could make in his case.