This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: An ugly new legal battle erupts within the Prince estate; Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan is sued for sexual assault; a judge issues a ruling on the ongoing battle between members of Mötley Crüe; and much more.
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THE BIG STORY: Civil War in The Prince Estate
After Prince died without a will in 2016, it took more than six years of legal wrangling to settle his estate, as heirs, advisors, a court-appointed bank and Primary Wave all battled before a Minnesota probate judge over how exactly the star’s assets should be divided.
When the dust finally settled in 2022 — with tax issues resolved and the $146 million estate split evenly into two LLCs — it seemed that the case was closed. Primary Wave (which bought out three of the heirs) would control one-half of the estate, while the remaining heirs and a pair of advisors would control the other half. Each side vowed to bring Prince’s music to a new generation of music fans.
But less than two years later, the Prince estate is suddenly back in court — this time, over allegations of an attempted coup within one of the ownership groups, of severe dysfunction at Paisley Park and of attempts by two heirs to unilaterally sell more shares to Primary Wave. For more, go read our full story here.
Other top stories this week…
JAMES DOLAN UNDER FIRE – The Madison Square Garden executive was hit with a sexual assault lawsuit claiming he pressured a masseuse into unwanted sex while his band was touring with the Eagles — and that he later facilitated an incident in which she was also assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. The lawsuit also named Irving Azoff’s The Azoff Company, claiming it had “benefited from facilitating Dolan’s behavior.”
CRÜE’S COURT CLASH – Mötley Crüe co-founder Mick Mars won a court order against his former bandmates, requiring them to repay some of his legal bills after a judge said they refused to turn over key financial records and other information. The decision was a win for Mars, but the real battle — a private arbitration case over whether the band acted illegally when they tried to kick him out of the band — remains ahead.
DIDDY BOOZE SETTLEMENT – Sean “Diddy” Combs and alcohol giant Diageo reached a settlement to resolve a year-long lawsuit over their soured partnership for DeLeón tequila. The deal, which will end a bitter legal battle that saw Combs accuse the liquor company of racism, came just months after he was hit with multiple sexual assault lawsuits.
G HERBO SENTENCED – A federal judge sentenced the Chicago rapper to three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to participating in a scam involving stolen credit card information — a fraud that prosecutors say netted the Chicago rapper almost $140,000 in private jet flights, vacation lodgings and luxury car rentals.
ALLEGED TUPAC KILLER GETS BAIL – A judge set bail at $750,000 for Duane “Keffe D” Davis, the former Los Angeles-area gang leader charged with orchestrating the killing of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur in 1996. The judge ruled that Davis, who is allegedly in poor health after battling cancer, can serve house arrest with electronic monitoring ahead of his trial in June.
AI LEGISLATION IN WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill called No Artificial Intelligence Fake Replicas And Unauthorized Duplications Act, or No AI FRAUD Act, legislation that would aim to regulate the use of artificial intelligence for cloning voices and other forms of likeness. The same day, lawmakers in Tennessee unveiled similar legislation called the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act, or ELVIS Act, which would beef up existing state-level protections for such likeness rights.
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