Ghostface Killah sues and is sued

By | Published on Friday 12 August 2011

Ghostface Killah

Wu Tang rapper Ghostface Killah is suing Universal Music Publishing over allegations the company has been holding on to more of the rap group’s royalties than it is contractually due. Universal acquired the Wu Tang Clan publishing catalogue when it bought the BMG publishing company in 2007.

According to reports, in his lawsuit the rapper, real name Dennis Coles, claims that Universal has a 25% stake in the Wu Tang Clan catalogue, and not a 50% copyright interest as the company, according to the rap man, says. Which, according to my maths, would mean the Clan’s performers are due 25% more Wu Tang royalties than they have been previously receiving.

It’s a complicated claim because it, in part, relates to a previous royalties dispute between Coles and his Wu Tang Clan bandmate RZA, and the Wu Tang company that RZA controls. A side ruling in that dispute related to BMG’s, and now Universal’s, stake in the Wu Tang catalogue. Universal is yet to respond to the new legal claim.

Elsewhere in Ghostface Killah legal news, the rapper himself is being sued by Hollywood composer Jack Urbont. The Hollywood music maker objects to Coles’ use of the ‘Iron Man Theme’ – which Urbont originally composed for ‘The Marvel Super Heroes’ back in the 1960s – on two tracks on the Wu Tang man’s 2000 album ‘Supreme Clientele’.

Coles’ people this week filed an application to the court to have that case dismissed based on the statute of limitations, ie arguing Urbont has left it too long since the Ghostface Killah album landed to make a claim.