Dr Luke and the estate of Juice WRLD were sued last week by a musician/producer in a dispute over copyright ownership and allegedly unpaid royalties.
The lawsuit, filed by Pierre Dejournette - who performers as PD Beats - centres on 'Not Enough', a track that featured on 'Fighting Demons', the posthumous Juice WRLD album released in 2021.
Dejournette is listed as a co-writer on that song in various places, alongside Juice WLRD, producer Dr Luke and others. And that includes in the public database of US mechanical rights collecting society MLC. However, it seems, there was no formal agreement about the ownership of the 'Not Enough' copyright and, on that basis, Dejournette reckons he has missed out on royalties he is due.
"PD Beats contributed original guitar, performance and production to the subject song in addition to writing the beats and programming the 808s in the subject song", the lawsuit states. "Without PD Beats contributions the subject song would be missing key elements that form the basis of the subject song’s audience appeal".
As a result, the lawsuit goes on, 'Not Enough' is a joint work and "PD Beats and defendants equally own the copyrights in the composition of the subject song. Because the subject song is a 'joint work' the co-authors must account to other co-authors for any profits earned from licensing or using the copyright".
Generally in the music industry, once co-ownership of a song - and each party's split of the copyright - has been agreed, each co-owner will then manage and monetise their respective slice of the copyright and collect any resulting revenue.
However, under US copyright law, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, each co-owner has an equal share of the copyright and any one co-owner can unilaterally license the entire work, providing they pass on a pro-rata share of any income to the other co-owners.
Hence Dejournette's claim to equal ownership and the obligation on his former collaborators - or their business partners - to account on any revenue generated by the 'Not Enough' song copyright.
The lawsuit adds: "Defendants have released, marketed, distributed and monetised the subject song without accrediting or providing PD Beats his proportional share of the revenue".
With all that in mind, Dejournette wants the court to confirm his co-ownership of the 'Not Enough' copyright, force the defendants to account for the exploitation of that copyright, and pay him any share he is due.
We await to see how the defendants now respond.