Copyright Case of “Tha Weedman”

The Parties:
Plaintiff-Redwin Wilchcombe
Defendant- TeeVee Toons, Inc

The Facts:
In 2002, Redwin met rapper Jonathan Smith p/k/a Lil John of Lil John and the East Side Boyz (LJESB). While the two were talking about calling a supplier of marijuana, a “weedman”, Lil John told the plaintiff that would be a “cool” concept for a song. The plaintiff proceeded to compose the music and lyrics for “Tha Weedman” which was later sent to Lil John for final mixing, and to be used on LJESB’s album Kings of Crunk, without any discussion of payment. TeeVee Toons, Inc marketed and distributed the album, which by 2005 had sold over 2 million units, without any payment to the plaintiff. The plaintiff claims that the defendants did not have a license for use of Tha Weedman, and therefore is copyright infringement on the part of the defendant.

The issue:
Did TeeVee Toons, Inc use Wilchcombe’s song Tha Weedman without a license to do so, there for infringing on copyright?

The Holding:
No, Essentially Wilchcombe issued a license when he sent the song to be used on LJESB’s album without any discussion of payment.

Courts Reasoning:
A license is an agreement permitting the use of a copyright, in this case the song Tha Weedman, which was issued when Wilchcombe sent the song to Lil John fully aware that the song was intended to be used on LJESB’s album. There was no discussion of payment, and Lil John’s contract stipulates that all of his songs belong to TeeVee Toons, Inc. At that point, rights to market and distribute the song belonged to the defendants, who therefor could not possibly infringe on the copyright, especially since the plaintiff never hinted at any form of copyright infringement until filling the lawsuit.

Related Case:  182 F.3d 1291: Mimi Korman, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Hbc Florida, Inc.

In 1999, Mimi Korman sued HBC Florida, Inc, owners of WQBA-AM, on copyright infringement for continuing to play a jingle she had written after their business relationship fell through. Korman had worked for the radio station and written many jingles without ever having a formal written agreement. The court ruled that a written agreement was not needed in order to grant a license, she had orally agreed to use of her songs therefor HBC was not infringing on her copyright.