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George Clinton defeats defamation claims made by former producer

By | Published on Tuesday 17 August 2021

George Clinton

It was confirmed last week that George Clinton has won the latest in his legal battles with former collaborator Armen Boladin. This particular case centred on Clinton’s 2014 autobiography in which, producer Boladin claimed, he was defamed numerous times.

Some of the allegedly defamatory statements actually related to claims that had been discussed in previous legal battles between Clinton and Boladin. And, the former’s lawyers argued, decisions and testimonies in those past case backed up their client’s allegations.

Those lawyers noted in a statement last week that Boladin’s defamation lawsuit took issue with statements in Clinton’s autobiography to the effect that the producer had “fabricated documents”, “fraudulently backdated and altered” agreements, and “robbed” their client of his songs.

“In 1994, a United States district court judge held that Clinton did not sign the document used by Boladian’s company to record its rights with the Copyright Office”, the lawyers added. “And in 1995, Boladian stated in a sworn declaration that he, in fact, altered the language of a 1982 written agreement with Clinton and added songs to the agreement, but did so pursuant to his power of attorney”.

During the recent defamation trial, they went on, the Clinton side “shared with the jury the 1994 district court decision, Boladian’s 1995 declaration, and affidavits from two of Boladian’s former employees affirming that he altered agreements after they were signed by Clinton and other artists. After hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously held that the statements in Clinton’s book were not actionable because they were either true, matters of opinion, or not made with constitutional malice”.

Commenting on the judgement, which was made last month but published last week, lawyer Jordan Susman said: “This verdict is a win for George and the First Amendment. No one should be prohibited from sharing their life story, from their point of view, simply because it may paint someone else in a less than flattering light. Especially, as the jury held, when George had no reason to seriously doubt the truth of his statements”.

Meanwhile, Clinton himself added: “I am grateful and overjoyed that a jury of my peers agreed that there is nothing defamatory in speaking my mind and sharing my life story. I will continue to speak truth to power, and to fight against the forces that have separated so many songwriters from their music. Investigate. Interrogate. Litigate. Unseal. Reveal. If we don’t get this right, then they win”.

Past legal run ins between Clinton and Boladin include a 2011 case over whether or not the latter’s label Westbound Records owned the copyright in various recordings by former’s group Parliament. In that case Clinton’s claim in relation to those copyrights was dismissed due to various legal technicalities.

Boladin then sued Clinton in 2015 arguing that the 2011 case had been pursued as a ruse to help the musician promote his autobiography, and therefore he should be held liable for malicious prosecution. That dispute went before a judge in January last year. According to Law 360, in that case Clinton won on summary judgement.