Clip: George Clinton Wins Funkadelic Rights
George Clinton Wins Funkadelic Rights
By JEFF LEEDS
Published: June 7, 2005
LOS ANGELES, June 6 - A federal judge here has given the funk music pioneer George Clinton his groove back.
In a decision issued last week, Judge Manuel L. Real of Federal District Court of Los Angeles returned ownership of the master recordings of four albums Mr. Clinton made in the 1970's with his band Funkadelic: "One Nation Under a Groove," "Hardcore Jollies," "Uncle Jam Wants You" and "The Electric Spanking of War Babies."
In winning possession of the recordings, Mr. Clinton can now control licensing and distribution of the music and lay claim to millions of dollars in past licensing fees.
"That feels real good," he said in a telephone interview on Monday. "It feels good mainly because it gives me another shot."
The ruling came as the latest twist in a 12-year legal fight over the rights to the recordings and the copyrights to the songs of Funkadelic and of Parliament, Mr. Clinton's other funk band. The most recent case centered around disputes among Mr. Clinton, several former business associates and a former manager.
Don Engel, a lawyer who represented Mr. Clinton at the trial, says Mr. Clinton may be entitled to millions of dollars in past licensing fees from record labels whose artists lifted samples, or snippets, from Parliament and Funkadelic albums while recording new music. Mr. Engel also said that Mr. Clinton now has grounds to seek compensation for the rerelease of the albums in 2002 by Priority Records, now a unit of the music giant EMI Group.
The flamboyant Mr. Clinton, who said he was 64, must now decide how hard to press for past money, and whether he still has a chance to win control of song copyrights to his old work. In 2001 he lost a court ruling in a case in which he contended that he still owned the songs. They are now controlled by his onetime music publisher, Bridgeport Music. It is not clear whether the latest ruling would provide for a new claim on that issue.
"I'm still writing the whole history of the thing," Mr. Clinton said. "I just want my stuff back."