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: A long-simmering feud between the families of Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone has erupted into a new lawsuit over a proposed Netflix biopic; Madonna’s team vows to “vigorously” fight a lawsuit over her late concert starts; a man stalking Taylor Swift is arrested three times before he’s kept behind bars; and much more.
THE BIG STORY: Hey, Ho, Let’s Go … To Court
In a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan court, Johnny’s widow, Linda Ramone, sued Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, over allegations that he had “covertly” developed a planned Netflix movie starring Pete Davidson as Joey. She says that any movie based on the pioneering punk band requires her sign-off.
“To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy,” Linda’s lawyers wrote.
The case is the latest in years of battles between Linda and Mickey, who split 50-50 ownership of the Ramones IP. And it raises interesting legal questions about so-called life rights deals — and how they raise unique challenges in the context of musical biopics.
To learn more, go read our full story, featuring the full backstory, legal analysis and access to the actual court docs.
Other top stories this week…
LATE DEBATE – Madonna’s management team and Live Nation responded to a high-profile lawsuit claiming the music legend harmed her fans by starting New York City concerts later than scheduled, disputing some allegations and saying they plan to “defend this case vigorously.”
TAYLOR’S STALKER HELD IN JAIL – David Crowe, the man charged with stalking Taylor Swift outside her Manhattan home, was ordered by a New York judge to remain in custody after he was arrested for a third time shortly after being released from jail the first time.
JAM MASTER JAY MURDER TRIAL – Two men accused of murdering Run-DMC‘s Jam Master Jay, Karl Jordan, Jr. and Ronald Washington, finally headed to trial this week, more than 21 years after the rap icon’s killing. Prosecutors say the two men killed Jay as payback after a failed cocaine deal; if convicted, they each face the possibility of life in prison.
JIMI HENDRIX ROYALTIES CASE – A London judge issued a ruling that the heirs of Jimi Hendrix’s former bandmates could continue to sue Sony Music over the rights to three classic albums, clearing the way for a trial next year to resolve the contentious lawsuit.
RIDESHARING … A GLOCK? – Chicago rapper Lil Zay Osama was indicted on two federal charges of illegal firearm possession after he allegedly left an automatic Glock pistol in the back of an Uber after a ride in New York City.
50 CENT SUED OVER MIC TOSS – The rapper was hit with a civil lawsuit over an incident last summer in which he was captured on video throwing a microphone at a concert, filed by a Los Angeles radio host who says she was struck by the mic and suffered “severe and permanent injuries.”
FUGEE LAWYER LEAKS – David Kenner, the attorney who unsuccessfully represented Fugees rapper Pras Michel in his criminal trial case year, pleaded guilty to a criminal contempt charge over allegations that he leaked grand jury materials to reporters ahead of the trial. The lawyer was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and will have to pay a fine.
KAT VON D CLEARED – A jury found that celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D did not violate a photographer’s copyrights when she used his portrait of Miles Davis as the basis for a tattoo she put on the arm of a friend, capping off a closely-watched case against the LA Ink star.
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