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Surprise, surprise. Another sampling copyright suit has been filed, and this time the defendant is no other than The Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah.
Sued by Jack Urbont, the creator of the Iron Man Theme from the 1960's The Marvel Super Heroes, Killah is accused of using the song in two tracks on his second album, which was released in 2000.
Will the artist's love of Iron Man deplete his bank account?
Sampling by hip hop and rap artists has been the basis for many a copyright suit in the last decade, and depending on the situation, a fair use argument may win out.
However, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter, this suit is a bit more interesting than just your ordinary copyright claim.
Urbont alleges that, in addition to using his song without attribution or permission, Ghostface Killah has broken unfair competition laws, which prohibit the use of another's name, likeness, or trademark to gain advantage in the marketplace.
Apparently, Ghostface is also known as Tony Starks, which is a play on Iron Man's real name, according to the Reporter. This, in combination with his use of the theme song, unfairly links the hip hop artist with the comic hero.
There's no telling how this argument will play out, as it appears to be quite novel. But the truth is that, while it may have been improper to use the theme song without permission, there's no law against having a nickname in addition to your nom de rap.
However, it would be kind of funny to see a magazine read "Ghostface Killah Sued Over Nickname."