TVT Records Tastes Its Own Medicine – Ordered To Pay $9.1 Million
Ah, Sweet Irony…
After a grueling 11-day trial, a federal jury ruled that TVT Records did whatever it could to block Slip-N-Slide Records from releasing music by Miami based artist Pitbull, a TVT recording artist. TVT has been ordered to pay $9.1 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
The irony is that TVT alledged that Island/Def Jam and Lyor Cohen did the exact same thing to TVT with Ja Rule. TVT originally accused Island/Def Jam and Cohen of unsavory business tactics and fraud, over an unreleased album by Cash Money Click, whose members included Jeffrey Atkins, known professionally as Ja Rule. The group joined TVT because of Irving Lorenzo who worked A&R for the independent label. Lorenzo is now known in the industry as Irv Gotti.
The group released material with TVT before Ja Rule and Irv Gotti were under contract with Island/Def Jam. Ja Rule signed with TVT in 1993 and was released from the contract in 1998, when Irv Gotti left TVT and created his Murder Inc. imprint. Ja Rule followed a few years later. And as you know, Rule and Gotti exploded onto the hip-hop scene and enjoyed tremendous success with Island/Def Jam under the Murder, Inc., label.
TVT claimed that Island/Def Jam and Cohen sabotaged the Cash Money Click album by blocking the release. TVT label president Steve Gottlieb, who has no love for Cohen, went an extra step by holding him personally accountable. In March of 2003, a jury awarded TVT $132 million in punitive and compensatory damages against IDJMG, finding Cohen personally responsible for $56 million in damages.
Cohenâ€™s lawyers said Gottlieb was â€œnot entitled to a windfall” and vowed to appeal the juryâ€™s decision. “We disagree with the verdict,” Cohen said in a statement. “Since the jury was not allowed to consider all of the evidence presented in the case, we are confident that when they do, we will prevail.” In September 2003, Cohen’s punitive damages were cut from $56 million dollars to $3 million, while Island/Def Jam was ordered to pay $50 million dollars.
In June of 2005, The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that TVT’s claims of unsavory business tactics, including the charge of fraud, were without merit. A huge set back for the independent, and a slap in the face to their claims. TVT was awarded $126,720 for a breach of contract claim which Island/Def Jam and Cohen did not appeal. Cohen left IDJMG in Jan. 2004 to assume the role of CEO of Warner Music Group.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming…
According to the Miami Herald, the suit was filed after Slip-N-Slide attempted to release their compilation album, Welcome to the 305, back in 2005. The LP featured vocals from Pitbull that were recorded prior to the release of his LP, M.I.A.M.I., on TVT in June of 2006. TVT felt that Florida based Slip-N-Slide, home to artists such as Trick Daddy and Rick Ross, was trying to capitalize off Pitbull’s sudden prominence on the national hip-hop scene.
TVT then attempted to halt the release by sending out hundreds of letters to distributors saying the album had been illegally recorded. “TVT had objected to vocal snippets from early demos of our recording artist Pitbull being placed into new music, by new producers, with new hooks, new song titles and new material by new guest artists all repackaged for sale without the artist’s approval or involvement,” the company said in a statement.
TVT also claimed that Pitbull’s logo and photos were used without permission. Slip-N-Slide’s attorney Richard C. Wolfe countered, “The jury rejected all those claims. We own the album. We’re going to tack $1 million to $2 million in legal fees onto this too.”
TVT has vowed to appeal the ruling. “TVT will be pursuing all available remedies before the district court and on appeal,” TVT said in a statement.
Now Here’s The Kicker…
“TVT believes that the verdict is contrary to, and unsupported by, the evidence in the case, as well as being excessive,” TVT claimed in their statement on the ruling. Now read what Lyor Cohen said when Island/Def Jam first lost their case against TVT:
“We disagree with the verdict,” Cohen said in a statement. “Since the jury was not allowed to consider all of the evidence presented in the case, we are confident that when they do, we will prevail.”
The Future: [Movie Voice Over Guy] A Cautionary Tale about the Litigation Economy, gone ironically awry with financial consequences… [/Movie Voice Over Guy]