Artist News Legal

Kool Herc sues Vinyl makers

By | Published on Monday 9 May 2016

HBO Vinyl

Hip hop legend Kool Herc is suing HBO over its TV series ‘Vinyl’, which is set in the 1970s music industry. The DJ is portrayed in an episode of the series, and he reckons that violates a New York law that protects against likeness misappropriation as well as infringing his trademark rights.

It seems the programme’s makers did actually approach the DJ before having an actor portray him in the show, offering him a $10,000 fee and consulting contract if he agreed to waive all and any rights that might be required to feature him as a character in an episode. That approach may have backfired though, because it is possibly [a] how Herc became aware of his inclusion in the programme and [b] where he got the idea that said inclusion should have a financial value attached to it.

Despite initially seeking to have Herc formally waive any rights, the producers of ‘Vinyl’ are now sure to cite free speech, and limitations that are usually placed on likeness and trademark rights when it comes to the inclusion of real-life people in drama productions like this one, as opposed to in advertising or non-cultural products.

Nevertheless, Herc’s lawyer is quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying: “It’s beyond us why HBO and the producers of ‘Vinyl’, a successful show about artists and music, would hurt an artist like Herc who has contributed so much to the music industry”.