The New York Times reports today that “I Need A Doctor” rap legend Dr. Dre, whose Detox is due out sometime before the End Days, has successfully sued the current owners of his former label Death Row Records over a royalty dispute. Dre parted ways with Death Row co-owner Suge Knight in 1996 when he left the label. Ten years later the record company slid into bankruptcy, and its assets were subsequently purchased by WIDEawake Entertainment Group in 2009. There was just one problem—WIDEawake didn’t have the rights to sell Dre’s classic debut LP The Chronic digitally.
HipHopWired.com points out that the label’s new parent company was restricted to selling music from Death Row’s catalog in the original format in which it appeared. (The Chronic was originally released in 1992, a decade before the advent of albums being sold in digital format through online stores such as iTunes.)
Dre (real name: Andre Young) filed the suit against WIDEawake in a Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court in 2010, and yesterday Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that Death Row did not have the rights to distribute The Chronic online, reports the Times. The Judge also said Dr. Dre is entitled to damages over lost royalties from those sales.
Below is a statement released by the good Dr.’s lawyer, Howard King:
“For years, Death Row Records forgot about Dre when they continued to distribute his music digitally and combined his hits with weaker Death Row tracks in an attempt to elevate the stature of their other artists. We are gratified that the federal court has unambiguously declared that Death Row has no right to engage in such tactics, and must hold all proceeds from these illicit distributions in trust for our client.”
Forgot about Dre? Heh.