Universal Music Sued Over 2Pac Photo By Photographer Chi Modu’s Estate

The estate of iconic hip-hop photographer Chi Modu has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group as owner and operator of the website UDiscoverMusic.com, alleging copyright infringement over the usage of one of Modu’s photos of Tupac Shakur in a blog post.

The lawsuit, filed last Friday (June 24) and reviewed by Billboard, was filed on behalf of the estate by its trustee Sophia Modu and points to a post titled “Best Tupac Songs: 26 Essential Tracks,” which bears the photo atop the page with a photo credit indicating Universal Music Archives. The complaint alleges that the estate sent a cease and desist to UMG and the site on Feb. 9, 2022 threatening a lawsuit, to which “Defendants failed to meaningfully respond,” it says. (It appears the original blog post was published to the site on June 16, 2019 — what would have been Shakur’s 48th birthday — and re-published on the same date in years after with slight modifications; the current publish date says June 16, 2022.)

The complaint is alleging copyright infringement by UMG and 10 unnamed co-defendants whose identities could not be determined by the estate, as well as vicarious and/or contributory copyright infringement — alleging that defendants profited off the use of the copyrighted work — and that they violated 17 U.S. Code 1202 by removing Modu’s copyright information from the photograph before publishing it. The estate is demanding a jury trial and award of all profits and fees, as well as the removal of the photograph, and damages; statutory damages for copyright infringement can reach up to $150,000 per violation.

“Chi Modu’s photography captured moments of profundity and grace,” an attorney for the estate, Scott Burroughs, said in a statement provided to Billboard. “While it does not surprise me that it would appeal to Universal, we are disappointed that the company did not reach out to the Estate to procure a license before exploiting Mr. Modu’s work on its commercial website. We look forward to addressing this infringement in court.”

A rep for UMG did not respond to a request for comment; an email to the UDiscover Music website was not returned.

Modu, who died last year at age 54, rose to prominence in the 1990s as a photographer for some of the leading lights of the hip-hop world at the time, including Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G.Mary J. BligeLL Cool JNasSnoop DoggN.W.A and more. He was a photographer for pioneering hip-hop magazine The Source for a number of years, and his work has been featured on the covers of numerous magazines; the image of Shakur in question in this current lawsuit is one that appeared in the Rolling Stone book The ‘90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked.

Source: Billboard

Santa Ana Police Officers Blast Disney Tunes At Scene To Avoid YouTube Video Recording

video posted on YouTube shows Santa Ana police officers waking up a neighborhood during an investigation Monday night as they blasted Disney music from one of their patrol vehicles to stop a YouTuber from recording on scene.

In the video, an officer said they were at a scene near West Civic Center Drive and North Western Avenue for a vehicle theft investigation.

The first song heard playing in the video is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the Disney/Pixar film “Toy Story.”

It was almost 11 p.m. when “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “Un Poco Loco,” and other Disney hits filled the air. At one point, the YouTuber is heard telling officers to “have respect for the neighbors.”

The music drags on, waking up people in their homes, including children and Councilmember Johnathan Hernandez.

“It was eerie, and it was discomforting because you don’t hear Disney music being played that loud near 11 o’clock at night,” Hernandez told Eyewitness News during a Zoom interview Wednesday.

Hernandez is seen in the video speaking with one of the officers.

“Why are you doing this?” Hernandez asked.

“Because they get copyright infringement,” the officer replied.

The YouTuber is heard in the recording saying it’s because “he knows I have a YouTube channel.” That channel is called Santa Ana Audits.

On Wednesday, it had more than 3,500 subscribers and appeared to focus on recording SAPD officers on scene, a right protected by the First Amendment as long as there is no interference with police work.

Eyewitness News reached out to professor of music and copyright at Berklee Online Dr. E. Michael Harrington, who said the incident got into copyright law.

“I’ve been reading about it and seeing it on YouTube,” Harrington said. He was talking about officers playing music without purchasing the rights to it, a tactic to discourage recording.

“I think it’s clearly illegal because it is a public performance,” Harrington said of the officers playing the music loud enough for the public to hear.

In addition, when the videos are shared, the person posting it risks fines or even getting banned from the streaming or social media platform.

“YouTube has bots that go around and they match the song they’re hearing, and then if that’s on YouTube and it wasn’t cleared, then the music, the song recording and the copyright, they get taken down, and then the person [who] posted it, who is trying to be a good citizen to say, ‘Watch what this cop did or cops, they should be prosecuted,’ that person now gets a copyright strike for doing an act that’s far more important than what the cops are doing,” Harrington said.

An SAPD spokesperson told ABC7 Wednesday the incident is under investigation.

Chief of Police David Valentin issued a statement confirming the incident involved one of their officers. The statement from Valentin read, “My expectation is that all police department employees perform their duties with dignity and respect in the community we are hired to serve.”

In the YouTube video, Hernandez tells the officer, “I’m embarrassed that this is how you’re treating my neighbors. There’s children here. Have some respect for my community.”

The officer is heard replying, “I realize I made a mistake sir. I apologize.”

The two shake hands in the video.

“You know what? People make mistakes all the time, but unfortunately, we can’t afford to make these mistakes when we’re public servants,” Hernandez told Eyewitness News.

ABC7 reached out to others who witnessed the incident, but they didn’t feel comfortable going on the record, saying they feared retaliation. People in the neighborhood said this wasn’t the first time they’ve seen this happen.

Harrington said copyright fines can run anywhere from $750 to $150,000.

That’s times two because both the writer and the owner of the recording can take legal action.

Source: ABC7

Playboy Suing Fashion Nova Over Halloween Bunny Costume

Playboy’s pissed at Fashion Nova for rolling out new bunny costumes, just in time for Halloween, which it claims are plainly “an attempt to piggyback off the popularity and renown of Playboy’s iconic bunny costume.”

Translation: Quit bitin’ our bunny!

In docs, obtained by TMZ, Playboy says Fashion Nova completely ripped off its iconic costume — which includes cuffs, collar, bowtie, corset, ribbon name tag, bunny ears and tail — and is selling them as Halloween costumes on its website. According to the suit, Fashion Nova’s even using the description “Bunny of the Month,” which Playboy says is a clear reference to its Playmate of the Month trademark.

Source: TMZ