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Drake & Kendrick Diss Tracks, TikTok Lawsuit, Britney Divorce & More Top Music Law News

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 deep-dive into whether rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Drake can sue each other for defamation over wild allegations in diss tracks; a lawsuit from TikTok over an “unprecedented” law banning the app from the U.S.; Britney Spears settles her divorce case; and much more.

THE BIG STORY: Defamatory Dissing?

Over the weekend, as Kendrick Lamar and Drake exchanged diss tracks filled with wild accusations, spectators on social media began to wonder if either rapper could be setting themselves up for legal trouble: “Has anyone ever filed a defamation lawsuit over a diss track before?” joked Matt Ford, a legal reporter at the New Republic, on Saturday night.

An actual lawsuit seems unlikely, for the simple reason that any rapper responding to a diss track with a team of lawyers would be committing reputational suicide. But the discussion got us thinking: Could a rapper like Drake or Kendrick sue over the kind of scathing insults we saw this weekend?

While diss tracks filled with extremely specific invective (and we mean extremely) could certainly lead to a libel lawsuit in theory, legal experts tell Billboard that such a case would face not just legal challenges but also practical problems. Go read our full story here.

Other top stories this week…

TIKTOK SUES US OVER BAN – TikTok and parent company ByteDance filed a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning recently-passed legislation in the U.S. requiring the Chinese company to sell the popular app or face a national ban. The companies called the legislation an “unprecedented” and unconstitutional action aimed at “singling out” one company and “silencing” more than 170 million Americans who use TikTok.

BRITNEY DIVORCE FINALIZED – Britney Spears reached a settlement to finalize her divorce from husband Sam Asghari, resolving their 14-month marriage according to the terms of “a written agreement” – likely a reference to a reported “ironclad prenup” that Asghari signed before their 2022 wedding.

ASTROWORLD TRIAL DELAYED – The first civil trial for Travis Scott, Live Nation and others over their alleged roles in the 2021 disaster at the Astroworld music festival had been set to kick off this week, but the proceedings were postponed due to a tricky dispute over whether Apple – which aired an exclusive livestream of the fateful concert – can potentially be held liable.

TOMMY LEE ABUSE CASE TOSSED – A Los Angeles judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee of sexually assaulting a woman in a helicopter in 2003, ruling that she had failed to allege any kind of “cover-up” – a key requirement under the California statute she cited to file the lawsuit. It ain’t over yet, though: The judge gave her a chance to refile an amended complaint within 20 days.

MORGAN WALLEN UPDATE – The criminal case against Morgan Wallen for allegedly throwing a chair off the roof of a six-story Nashville bar is moving forward after an initial court hearing. The star, who did not appear in person and has not yet entered a plea, is facing three felony counts of reckless endangerment over the incident, in which the chair landed just feet from several police officers standing on the street below.  

AI SENATE HEARING – Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl and other industry bigwigs were on Capitol Hill last week for a Senate hearing on the  NO FAKES Act, a proposed federal law that would allow individuals to sue over the use of their name, likeness or voice without permission in “digital replicas” like AI-powered deepfakes. Go read Kristin Robinson’s entire breakdown of the hearing here.

NICK PRODUCER LIBEL SUIT – Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider filed a defamation lawsuit against Warner Bros. Discovery and others behind an explosive documentary called Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, alleging that the series wrongly implied that he had sexually abused the child actors he worked with.

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