Music

Pharrell’s Sock Lawsuit, Diplo Accusations, Village People Disney Case & 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: Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton face a trademark lawsuit over “Pocket Socks”; Diplo is hit with a lawsuit claiming he distributed “revenge porn”; the Village People move forward with a lawsuit against Disney; a longtime attorney repping Britney Spears moves on; and much more. 

Top stories this week…

SOCKED WITH A LAWSUIT – Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton were hit with a trademark lawsuit over their launch of a high-end line of “Pocket Socks” a literal sock-with-a-pocket that launched at Paris Fashion Week last year and sells for the whopping price of $530. The case was filed by a California company called Pocket Socks Inc. that says it’s been using that same name for more than a decade on a similar product. 

AI FIRMS FIRE BACK – Suno and Udio, the two AI music startups sued by the major record label last week over allegations that they had stolen copyrighted works on a mass scale to create their models, fired back with statements in their defense. Suno called its tech “transformative” and promised that it would only generate “completely new outputs”; Udio said it was “completely uninterested in reproducing content in our training set.”

REVENGE PORN CLAIMS – Diplo was sued by an unnamed former romantic partner who accused him of violating “revenge porn” laws by sharing sexually-explicit videos and images of her without permission. NYPD confirmed to Billboard that a criminal investigation into the alleged incident was also underway. 

DISCO v. DISNEY – A California judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Village People that claims the Walt Disney Co. has blackballed the legendary disco band from performing at Disney World. Disney had invoked California’s anti-SLAPP law and argued it had a free speech right to book whatever bands it chooses, but a judge ruled that the company had failed to show the issue was  linked to the kind of “public conversation” that’s protected under the statute. 

WRIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME – More than two years after Mathew Rosengart helped Britney Spears escape the longstanding legal conservatorship imposed by her father, the powerhouse litigator is no longer representing the pop star. In a statement, the Greenberg Traurig attorney said he was shifting to focusing on other clients: “It’s been an honor to serve as Britney’s litigator and primarily to work with her to achieve her goals.” 

PHONY FEES? – SiriusXM was hit with a class action lawsuit that claims the company has been earning billions in revenue by tacking a shady “U.S. Music Royalty Fee” onto consumers’ bills. The fee — allegedly 21.4% of the actual advertised price — represents a “deceptive pricing scheme whereby SiriusXM falsely advertises its music plans at lower prices than it actually charges,” the suit claims. 

DIVORCE DRAMA – Amid an increasingly ugly divorce case, Billy Ray Cyrus filed a new response claiming that he had been abused physically, verbally and emotionally by his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Firerose. The filing actually came in response to allegations that it was Cyrus who had subjected Firerose to “psychological abuse” during their short-lived marriage. 

UK ROYALTIES LAWSUIT – A group of British musicians filed a joint lawsuit against U.K. collecting society PRS, accusing the organization of a “lack of transparency” and “unreasonable” terms in how it licenses and administers live performance rights. The case, filed at London’s High Court, was brought by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, as well as rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain and numerous other artists. 

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