If you got the urge to pick up a copy of the Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut, Ready to Die, over the weekend, you were out of luck.
A judge halted sales of the late rapper’s breakthrough album on Friday after a jury decided that the title track used a sample of the Ohio Players song “Singing in the Morning” without permission, according to The Associated Press.
The jury also awarded $4.2 million in damages to the two companies that own the rights to Ohio Players recordings on Friday as U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell called for a sales ban to hit not just physical sales of the album and title song, but downloads and radio plays as well.
“We’ve just been battling this for such a long time,” said Armen Boladian, owner of Westbound and Bridgeport, the company that holds the song rights — which has filed more than 400 suits over sampling, most settled out of court. “So many have been settled because companies didn’t want anything to do with it, and we knew we were right.”
The jury in the B.I.G. case found that Bad Boy Entertainment and executive producer and boss Sean “Diddy” Combs illegally used a part of the Players’ “Singing in the Morning” on the album considered one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time. Ready to Die contains a number of samples, from snatches of Curtis Mayfield’s “Supafly” in the intro to Dr. Dre’s “Lil Ghetto Boy” in “Things Done Changed” and Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” in the hit “Juicy,” but the liner notes do not list the Ohio Players song as one of those samples.
Though the estate of B.I.G. was originally named in the suit, it was dropped as a defendant. The remaining defendants, Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy LLC, Justin Combs Publishing and Universal Records, plan to appeal the verdict. “We think [the verdict] is without merit,” attorney Jay Bowen said, according to the AP.