George Clinton sues Black Eyed Peas for copyright infringement

Parliament-Funkadelic leader claims his signature was forged to clear a sample for two remix tracks

The Black Eyed Peas have been accused of copyright infringement for the third time in three months, this time by funk legend George Clinton. The leader of Parliament-Funkadelic claims his signature was forged to clear a sample for two tracks by the group.

Clinton's lawyers are seeking "millions" in damages relating to two remixes of the Black Eyed Peas' 2003 hit Shut Up, which sold more than 8.5m copies. The most recent of these, Shut the Phunk Up, appeared as a bonus track on the 2009 album The E.N.D., as well as the DVD Live from Sydney to Vegas. Like the earlier remix, it incorporates a prominent sample from Parliament's 1979 song, (Not Just) Knee Deep.

Clinton claims the band's producers approached him last year to license the funk sample. But he insists he refused to sign any contract or concede to terms of compensation. Clinton alleges that someone forged his signature on a licensing agreement.

In October, the Black Eyed Peas were hit with two other infringement suits in relation to their songs I Gotta Feeling and Boom Boom Pow. Texas songwriter Bryan Pringle and Chicago singer Phoenix Phenom claim executives at Interscope stole hooks from their demos. They have filed their complaints together, seeking damages, a share of profits and songwriting credits.

Clinton has similar demands, but unlike Pringle and Phenom the funk bandleader has a history of copyright triumph. He has reportedly negotiated licences for (Not Just) Knee Deep samples on songs by De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and more, and last year won formal rights to the phrase, "Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay".

Black Eyed Peas' new album, The Beginning, is out now.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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