Rapper Dr. Dre’s case against his former record label has been thrown out by a California judge.
In February, Dr. Dre sued WIDEawake Death Row Records (previously known as Death Row Records) for putting out a new version of his classic album “The Chronic.” Dre felt the album violated his rights of trademark and publicity.
Death Row argued that it did not substantially modify “The Chronic” other than giving it clarity and better volume.
The dismissal of this case has more to do with Dre’s casual licensing rights in the 90’s than they do with the argument made by the new Death Row.
When Dre formed Death Row Records in 1991 he orally granted the label a non-exclusive license to release sound recordings. More specifically, Dre made another oral agreement to the same effect for “The Chronic” in exchange for an 18 percent royalty rate.
This allows Death Row to distribute his music just as long as he is paid his 18 percent.
Dissecting the case, California District Court Judge Christina Snyder, ruled that the alterations to the cd were “minor and inconsequential.” Therefore, if Dr. Dre was paid his 18 percent in royalties, his argument is null and void.
But according to Dre, he has not been paid anything by his former record label. So while one case has been closed another one has just opened up.