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Dr. Dre Wins Digital Rights to 'The Chronic'

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 26, 2011 6:50 AM

Things are looking up for Dr. Dre. The Chronic has been making money digitally for years, and now Dre will be getting a cut of those royalties.

A District Court Judge in Los Angeles ruled last week that Death Row Records owes Dr. Dre 100% of all royalties it has earned from selling digital copies of the seminal rap album.

The saga of The Chronic and other Dr. Dre albums begins in 1996, when the Compton native left Death Row--the label he started with Suge Knight, reports The New York Times.

Dr. Dre contended that he had not been paid any royalties between 1996 and 2009, when the label transformed into WIDEawake as a result of falling into bankruptcy.

The rapper also argued that the label had re-released and was selling digital copies of The Chronic without his permission.

The judge agreed, reports MTV, awarding him 100% of all royalties earned from digital sales of the album.

We've seen a few similar lawsuits recently, first with Eminem and then with Rick James, in which artists that came to fame prior to the digital revolution are suing record labels for digital download royalties

Chances are that Dr. Dre's original copyright and royalty contract from 1992--when he first recorded The Chronic--also did not cover digital royalties, which allowed the judge to conclude that he owns all digital rights to his songs.

Dr. Dre fans shouldn't worry that this ruling will end with the removal of The Chronic and other albums from iTunes. It's extremely likely that the two parties will now negotiate a mechanism by which Dre can be paid.

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