Over the past 19 months, at least six albums bearing the Game’s grizzled grill have hit record stores. The problem is he’s only getting paid for one of them, according to a lawsuit the rapper filed March 17 in Los Angeles District Court.
In the suit, the Game — real name Jayceon Taylor — argues that Koch Entertainment and related companies are liable for at least 81 separate counts of copyright infringement “as a result of their unlawful and unauthorized marketing, selling and distributing” of five albums featuring material he had recorded in 2002 with producer Joseph Tom, a.k.a. JT the Bigga Figga.
When the Game and Tom made the recordings, the rapper signed a handwritten agreement that allowed Tom and his Get Low Entertainment to release the songs, provided that the Game was paid 50 percent of the profits. This handwritten note did not, however, transfer copyright of the songs from the Game to Get Low, the suit alleges, and therefore when Koch acquired the songs from Get Low sometime in 2004 or 2005, the copyright stayed with the Game, since he “wrote 100 percent of all words and lyrics … and the Game is the featured performer on all of the songs.
“Regardless of what agreement [Koch] made with Tom or Get Low, neither … ever had any interest in the Game’s publishing (i.e. the lyrics or words)” the suit continued. “Seeking to surf on [the Game’s] superstar status, [Koch] released some of his early recordings without obtaining licenses for use of the copyrighted compositions.”
According to the lawsuit, despite warnings from the Game’s attorneys, Koch went ahead and released the material, through Fast Life Music, on five albums — two volumes of The Game: Untold Story, two chopped-and-screwed volumes and one special-edition CD and DVD — which were sold without obtaining authorization from the rapper. The suit asks the court for an injunction against Koch and damages for the release of the albums.
A spokesperson for Koch Entertainment could not be reached for comment. According to the Game’s attorney, Alan Gutman, there is no date set for the trial