Dre case over ten year old DVD returns to court

By | Published on Thursday 20 January 2011


A decade old lawsuit against Dr Dre returned to court yesterday, despite two previous court hearing finding in favour of the hip hop mogul. Dre and various of his business partners were sued ten years ago by three officials in the city of Detroit over an bit of content featured on a DVD of the rapper’s ‘Up In Smoke’ tour.

The offending bit of content featured the plaintiffs – then police commander Gary Brown, police spokeswoman Paula Bridges and Mayoral press man Greg Bowens – telling producers of the Dre show that they couldn’t show a bit of film being used as an opener on the ‘Up In Smoke’ tour because it contained nudity and that violated city laws. The officials threatened to cut the electricity if the sequence was shown, so much so the gig’s promoters decided to comply with their demands.

So, success for Brown, Bridges and Bowens, except they didn’t realise their conversation with Team Dre was being recorded, and got a shock when it appeared on the subsequent tour DVD. The officials claimed the recording and publication of the conversation in a private room infringed their rights, and duly sued for damages.

But judges at Wayne County Circuit Court ruled against the city officials on two occasions, arguing that the three officials had no reason to expect that their discussion of public business constituted a private conversation, and therefore laws that forbid the recording and publishing of private meetings did not apply. However, in 2009 the Michigan Court Of Appeals ruled that the plaintiff’s case should have been heard by a jury and not ruled on by judges.

Which is why ten years after the ‘Up In Smoke’ DVD was released, lawyers for both sides were back in Michigan Supreme Court yesterday to present their opening arguments. It remains to be seen how it goes this time round.