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Damon Dash sued over Reasonable Doubt NFT

By | Published on Monday 21 June 2021

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

Lawyers working for the old Roc-A-Fella label have gone legal over an NFT sale organised by one its founders, Damon Dash.

According to legal papers, Dash allegedly included the copyright in the first album from his Roc-A-Fella co-founder Jay-Z – that being ‘Reasonable Doubt’ – in a non-fungible token that he minted and tried to auction off via NFT platform SuperFarm. The auction was cancelled, but lawyers say they suspect Dash will try to go ahead with the sale via another NFT marketplace.

There has been a lot of hype around NFTs in recent months of course, with plenty of artists cashing in on that hype. An NFT is actually just a set of data recorded on a blockchain. Quite what people get when buying an NFT depends on the terms of the token.

With music NFTs, it could include a transfer of actual copyright, or some sort of royalty right, although in most cases no rights are assigned through the token. Instead the NFT acts more as a licence, giving people access to some content and possibly permission to share said content.

Actually in many cases, the NFT mainly grants “bragging rights” to the buyer – ie “my version of this track or video is better than yours, because the artist said so, and that fact is logged on the blockchain”.

Some have expressed concerns that when music NFTs are being auctioned off sellers are often not clear enough about what exactly is being sold. And there seems to be some confusion over what Dash was proposing to sell via his non-fungible token.

According to, the Roc-A-Fella lawsuit says Dash tried to cash in on the recent hype by auctioning “the copyright to ‘Reasonable Doubt’ as an NFT”. But, while Dash does still have an interest in the Roc-A-Fella business, he doesn’t control the copyright in Jay-Z’s debut album.

“Dash can’t sell what he doesn’t own”, the lawsuit reportedly states. “By attempting such a sale, Dash has converted a corporate asset and has breached his fiduciary duties. The court should stop Dash … and hold him accountable for his brazen theft”.

However, following the lawsuit, Dash has told TMZ that he wasn’t offering the copyright in ‘Reasonable Doubt’ via the NFT sale, rather he was looking to sell his stake in the Roc-A-Fella label. That wouldn’t give the buyer control over ‘Reasonable Doubt’, but instead Dash’s cut of the revenue it generates.

He is quoted by the gossip site as saying: “Under the terms of the deal with a potential buyer, the buyer would buy my share of Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z will have exclusive administration rights”. So that’s all nice and confusing. Which is apt for a lawsuit involving an NFT.

If this litigation does proceed to court – which it probably won’t, but you know, it could – it would mean two potentially interesting cases involving ‘Reasonable Doubt’. Last week Jay-Z sued the photographer who took the picture that appears on the cover of his debut album. The rapper argued that Jonathan Mannion was infringing his image rights under US law by selling copies of that photo and other images in which he appears.

This story is discussed on this episode of our Setlist podcast