Tuesday was not Dre’s day, as the G-funk doctor was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million to the copyright holder of a song he illegally borrowed a portion of for his last album.
A Los Angeles jury awarded London-based Minder Music Ltd. less than half of the $3.5 million originally sought after hearing testimony from the music publisher as well as Dr. Dre.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall, however, has not yet signed the judgment.
Howard King, Dre’s lawyer, believes the case will be thrown out because of inconsistencies within the jury’s findings.
Dre testified that before hiring a musician to play a bassline from the Fatback Band’s 1980 song “Backstrokin’” for his 2001 track “Let’s Get High,” he consulted a musicologist who said the riff was commonplace.
The jury agreed, calling the rapper’s actions innocent infringement, but fined him anyway.
“This matter has been going on for three years and we should never have had to go to court; needless to say the cost was horrendous,” said Minder Music’s music director, John Fogarty, who testified in the trial. “However, it’s a great day for music publishing. The notion that someone can take someone else’s work and put their own name down as creator is outrageous.”
The Fatback Band have been sampled or covered more than 80 times by acts ranging from Monica to Fatboy Slim to Everlast, according to Fogarty.
Minder Music sued Dre in 2000, around the time Lucasfilm sued him for using their signature sound effect to open his second album (see “Dr. Dre Sued By Lucasfilm” ).