The DOJ Now Has The One Of A Kind Wu Tang Album; But Don't Expect Jeff Sessions To Release The Album

from the not-how-it-works dept

Well, well, well. At the end of last year we wrote about the weird series of events that could possibly lead to the DOJ getting possession of a one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album called Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The short version: in 2014 Wu Tang decided to experiment with a different kind of business model: selling a single copy of an album to the highest bidder. Nearly two years later, just as the entire world was learning to absolutely loathe a pharma man-child named Martin Shkreli, it came out that Shkreli was the guy who forked over $2 million or so for the album.

Since then Shkreli has been arrested, and things haven't gone well for him. As you may have heard, a week or so ago, the court ruled that Shkreli caused a loss of $10.4 million for investors. And, yesterday, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto further ruled on the DOJ's asset forfeiture request, granting the request to seize a bunch of Shkreli assets... including Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The order of forfeiture specifically lays out the following assets:

(a) $5 million in cash that is currently held in an E*Trade brokerage account ending in the digits “0258” as security for the defendant’s bond, pursuant to orders of the Court dated January 7, 2016, August 24, 2016 and October 19, 2017;
(b) Vyera Pharmaceuticals (formerly known as Turing Pharmaceuticals);
(c) the album “Once Upon A Time in Shaolin” by the Wu Tang Clan;
(d) the album “Tha Carter V” by Lil Wayne; and
(e) a Picasso painting.

Of course, don't think that this means that Jeff Sessions will now be releasing the album. I'm guessing he's not a huge fan of Wu Tang Clan, first of all. But, more importantly, it's likely that the DOJ will simply try to sell the album to get the cash value -- which will make for one hell of an interesting asset auction. But... it also means that some other rich dude might buy the album and keep it all to himself as well. Or, alternatively, someone else might try to buy it and release it. As Sarah Jeong wrote years ago (predicting all of this), it's still not clear what contractual obligations there are or if Wu Tang Clan retains the copyright:

The weird thing is that it's not clear what happens to the contract that Shkreli signed when he bought the album. Presumably, the contract allowed him to transfer his limited distribution rights if he ever sold the physical record to another person. But what happens if the record gets seized by the federal government as part of a criminal forfeiture?

Let's say the government seizes the record, sells it on GSA Auctions, and then I buy it and upload the whole thing onto the internet. If Shkreli had uploaded the whole album for free, Wu-Tang couldn't sue him—as per the terms of the contract. But if I do it, there's no contract preventing Wu-Tang from suing me, even though I'm now the rightful owner of the One True New Wu-Tang Album.

That is, unless the government manages to successfully seize Shkreli's intellectual property rights in the Wu-Tang album.

But, as per the order, the forfeiture order appears to only cover the physical album and not the associated copyright.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:47am

    Ah, another unique trivial anomaly for Techdirt to hypothecate over and re-write.

    This is Anomaly Central.

    I don't suppose you'll even consider going to Drudge for a topic and dashing off original opinion? Just for a change?

    What's next? Some new bit of trivia about Prenda? New T-shirt design?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Darkhog, 6 Mar 2018 @ 10:06am

      Re: Ah, another unique trivial anomaly for Techdirt to hypothecate over and re-write.

      Don't be a Richard, okay? Because you're such a Richard right now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 11:01am

      Re: Ah, another unique trivial anomaly for Techdirt to hypothecate over and re-write.

      hOW ABOUT THE IDEAS..

      That Creating news isnt always easy.
      There is enough of it running around, why not Grab abit and discuss it?
      How about a person not Loosing 1 thing in his life, that will put him in the poor house?
      How about the est. Value of these product, over WHAT they are going to get? Wouldnt you love to pivk up that album at 10%?? And is that a Valid Worth or amount to receive for the 10 million that they TOOK?? will they go back for MORE until they can get the FULL 10 million??

      Creating a story about this person ONLY, getting hit for 10 million RETAIL rather then what they WILL GET for the goods..would be a Between the lines story.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:50pm

      Re:

      Nobody's been bringing up Prenda. We're all waiting for the trial.

      If you want to shed tears over your copyright hero John Steele that's on you, blue boy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:50am

    I really just like to think this whole situation is the heist/caper put into action, all masterminded by Bill Murray.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 6 Mar 2018 @ 10:26am

    But loves to Roger his Richard.
    Just dont call him Shirley.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 11:10am

    #releasethealbum

    C'mon Russian trollbots, do your thing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 1:56pm

    In my mind, yes its scary in there, I can see the Keebler Elf gleefully screaming about the devil music as the bonfire is lit & he throws the album onto it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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