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October 28, 2014

Composer Accuses Famed Atlanta Rapper Young Jeezy of Copyright Infringement in Misappropriating Lyrics to Song Provided to Rapper in 2009

Brian Smith (Smith), who describes himself as a music producer and songwriter specializing in urban music, filed his complaint seeking an injunction, damages, and attorney fees against Jay W. Jenkins d/b/a Young Jeezy Music (Jenkins), Demetrius L. Stewart d/b/a Shawty Redd Songs (Stewart), UMG Recordings, Inc. (UMG), Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ), Universal Music Group Distribution, Corp (UMGD), EMI Music Publishing (EMI), and EMI April Music, Inc. (EMIA) (collectively, Defendants).

According to the complaint, Smith write an original song entitled “Roll On Em” and obtained registration No. SRu872-428 after filing on May 27, 2008.  Smith’s manager, Jasmine Norwood, provided an electronic copy of the song by email to Stewart in 2009.  The work “Jizzle” was released by Defendants in July 2010 and Smtih first heard it the following month – August 2010.

Thereafter, on October 28, 2010, IDJ registered a copyright of the sound recording of Jizzle.  The complaint asserts that as a result, Smith lost substantial revenues, good will, and relationships with future clients, precluding Smith’s ability to expand his goodwill.  The nature of the goodwill that Smith alleges has been lost may be better understood by listening to Young Jeezy’s performance of the song.  Warning:  The lyrics are not intended for classroom dissection.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYeN5XiAFqc

The lawsuit targets relief from copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq., including, injunctive relief, expenses of litigation, and a declaratory judgment on ownership of the derivative work.

The case is Brian Smith v. Jay W. Jenkins et al., No. 1:13-cv-1235-RLV, filed 4/16/13 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Vining, Jr.

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