By Scott Nyman
Rapper Curtis Jackson, otherwise known as 50 Cent, has gained great fame and notoriety over the years. With smash hits such as “In Da Club,” “P.I.M.P.,” and “I Get Money,” you could say 50 Cent has met some proper ladies in some classy establishments, as he made a profit doing such.
Recently, Mr. Cent has come under fire from Atlanta based rapper, Tyrone Simmons. Mr. Simmons, otherwise known as “Caliber,” is claiming copyright ownership of the instrumental beat used in 50 Cent’s “I Got Money.” As a result, Simmons has filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Curtis Jackson, and a handful of record companies, for copyright infringement.
Simmons claims that he purchased the exclusive right to use, record, publish, reproduce, perform, or sell the instrumental beat used in the song. Simmons also further claims that 50 Cent knew of Simmons’ exclusive rights and willfully violated his copyrights. Willful infringement opens the Court’s discretion to grant statutory damages of up to $150,000. However, statutory damages will likely be irrelevant since the larger remedy comes in the form of actual damages. For actual damages, the Copyright Act provides the right “to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringements, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and not taken into account in computing the actual damages.” 17 U.S.C. § 504(b). I’m willing to bet the profit 50 Cent made off of a #4 Billboard single is nothing to sneeze at.
Louis D. Tambaro, an attorney representing Simmons, has stated, “the misappropriation of copyright-protected material is an endemic problem in the music business, and particularly in the genre of hip-hop/rap. This one is such the case.” Tambaro continues, “Our client was granted exclusive rights to the ‘I Get Money’ instrumental and was unceremoniously cut out of the loop when the defendants realized they had a huge hit on their hands.”
See the allegedly infringing song below: