We've written a few times about Bridgeport Music, which has been called a "sample troll"
. The small company claims ownership of numerous copyrights on songs written by George Clinton -- about which George Clinton claims the main guy at Bridgeport forged Clinton's signature
to obtain. Bridgeport is largely responsible for many of the lawsuits you hear about these days concerning "samples" being used in music, as it effectively convinced the Sixth Circuit Court that there was no fair use when it came to samples, and any sample requires royalty payments. However, in its latest lawsuit, it may have even overstepped those boundaries. William Patry points us to the details that show the lengths to which Bridgeport will go to try to squeeze money out of songs it may not even really own the rights to. The case involves a Snoop Dogg song that apparently used a sample of an old Clinton tune (something that Clinton encourages
(video clip)). But, that's not the problem. The problem appears to be that two other musicians later sampled the Snoop Dogg tune (not the Clinton tune), and therefore Bridgeport is now claiming that Universal Music (who owns a small fraction of the rights associated with the Snoop Dogg tune) owes it money for licensing a song that had a sample that may or may not have been owned by Bridgeport. Luckily, the courts have tossed out the suit
, noting that Bridgeport's evidence is incredibly weak.
Either way, just the fact that Bridgeport thinks it has a claim shows to what ridiculous lengths people are taking copyright laws these days. To recap: Bridgeport may or may not own the copyrights to some George Clinton songs (Clinton himself claims that Bridgeport does not
own those rights and forged signatures to pretend it does). However, Bridgeport is suing Universal Music who owns a tiny fraction of the rights for a Snoop Dogg song which may or may not have sampled a tiny portion of a George Clinton song, and, in turn had a small section of the Snoop Dogg song sampled by two other musicians. The connection here between the two parties involved in the lawsuit is so distant that the idea that copyrights even play a remote part here is laughable. Unfortunately, though, that is the length to which companies will go these days thanks to our overly broad copyright laws.