Mariah Carey Wins In Court; Plus Marc Ecko, Notorious B.I.G., Michael Vick, Lil Wayne, Smashing Pumpkins & More, In For The Record

Ecko sends Bonds ball to Cooperstown — with an asterisk; Biggie case takes another twist; Vick fails drug test.

Mariah Carey got a win in court last week when a federal judge decided that a copyright-infringement case against her had no merit. Singer Rachele Chafir had sued Carey in April 2006, claiming that Carey’s hit “It’s Like That” was copied from her song “Sexy” and lifted key pieces, including the music, for the chorus. Chafir, who copyrighted the song in 2004, claimed Carey had access to “Sexy” since it was available on a Web site, but U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood decided that wasn’t proof Carey or her collaborators had gone to the Web site or lifted the material, which wasn’t “strikingly similar” enough to be considered infringement. With “no genuine issues of material fact,” Wood closed the case. “It was the right decision,” Carey’s lawyer Ilene Farkas told MTV News. “The record was clear in this case.” Meanwhile, Carey is moving on with her yet-untitled follow-up to The Emancipation of Mimi, which her record label confirmed is now due December 4. …

Going, going … to Cooperstown. And with an asterisk on it. Baseball star Barry Bonds’ record-breaking home-run ball, which was purchased two weeks ago in an online auction by hip-hop fashion mogul Marc Ecko, will be heading to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum after all. Ecko bought the ball and launched a Web site giving fans the chance to vote on the ball’s final destination: outer space or to Cooperstown, with or without an asterisk signifying Bonds’ alleged steroid use in helping him become the all-time home-run king. The announcement was made Wednesday morning (September 26) on the “Today” show after a week of voting. According to Vote756.com, over 10 million votes were cast, of which 47 percent chose to send the tagged ball to the famed baseball museum. …

The twisted saga of the investigation into the unsolved 1997 murder of the Notorious B.I.G. took another turn this week when Waymond Anderson, an inmate serving life for murder, recanted testimony in which he had implicated the Los Angeles Police Department in the rapper’s murder. The Los Angeles Times reports that Anderson said in a recent deposition that he lied about LAPD involvement as part of a “scam” cooked up with two other convicts to get a big monetary settlement from the city of Los Angeles. Most shockingly, Anderson accused the rapper’s family — which has filed a wrongful-death suit seeking damages from the city — and its lawyer of taking part in the scheme and offering to pay him a percentage of the settlement for false testimony against the LAPD. In the August 20 testimony, Anderson said he had never met the officers he implicated, despite earlier statements in which he described conversations with the two disgraced ex-LAPD cops. A lawyer for Biggie’s family, Perry Sanders, called Anderson’s allegations “100 percent, demonstrably false,” adding yet another twist to the already-knotted-up story by saying that Anderson appeared to be changing his story at the behest of Chuck Philips, a Times reporter who has written extensively about the murder investigation and has questioned the theory of LAPD involvement. Phillips and the Times dismissed the allegations. …

In other Biggie news, the recently released documentary “The Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life” follows the rapper’s life from his early days to his death with interviews from many of the behind-the-scenes music-industry figures and friends who watched the rapper rise from a street-corner hustler to one of the biggest rap stars in the world. The film also features several minutes of previously unreleased footage shot by a bystander of the scene on the night Biggie was gunned down. The fan’s video — which director Peter Spirer (“Beef,” “Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel”) said has been reviewed by authorities — doesn’t capture the moment Biggie’s car was shot at, but it does have audio of the shots and shaky footage of the chaotic aftermath. …

Embattled football player Michael Vick is facing stricter release conditions after testing positive for marijuana earlier this month, The Associated Press reports. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson imposed the new conditions, which include restricting Vick to his home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. with electronic monitoring and making him submit to random drug tests. He was ordered to continue participating in substance-abuse and mental-health counseling. Vick was put under pretrial release supervision in July, and the restrictions included refraining from the use of narcotic drugs or other controlled substances. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who pleaded guilty in August to federal dogfighting charges, is awaiting sentencing December 10 — and Vick’s violation of the conditions of his release could be taken into consideration by the judge. He faces up to five years in prison for the federal charges, and has been indicted on additional state charges in Virginia as well.

A second woman has filed a lawsuit against Lil Wayne over a melee that broke out during one of his shows at Morgan State University in Baltimore in October. According to an AP story, Carlisa Dixon said she was impaled on a metal pole after the crowd surged to snatch up money that was being tossed from the stage. Dixon is seeking $1 million from Wayne’s record label and touring companies, and another $1 million from the university, claiming she underwent surgery for a puncture wound as a result of the crowd surge. A lawsuit was filed in August by another woman who claimed she was trampled in the same money-throwing incident. A spokesperson for Wayne could not be reached for comment at press time. …

A man died at a Smashing Pumpkins concert in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday night in what police think may have been a crowd-surfing or moshing accident. The Canadian Press reports that Vancouver police say the man was unconscious when he was dragged out of the crowd at the Pacific National Exhibition Forum during the show and worked on by first-aid personnel on site before being transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police have ruled out foul play. … The Voodoo Music Experience is shifting locations, but just slightly. The fest, to take place October 26-28, has a new site in New Orleans City Park to accommodate ongoing restoration and improvement of the park. The shift brings the fest closer to Tad Gormley Stadium, where Voodoo was first held in 1999. …

Do you march to Nelly‘s beat? The rapper is cobbling together a marching band for his performance at the BET Hip-Hop Awards on October 13. Auditions will be held Sunday starting at 11 a.m. in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and St. Louis, and Nelly is looking for girls who can play drums, tri-toms, bass drum, tuba or trumpet. Prospective players need to know how to perform his song “Grillz” and move to the beat of the song while playing their instruments. Final auditions will be held October 8 in Atlanta, and those who can’t make the auditions in person can post a one-minute video clip on Nelly’s drum-line-audition site. … If you’ve been doubting Swizz Beatz‘s fashion sense, think again — Gap has tapped the hugely popular producer for its spring ad campaign. …

VH1 Rock Docs picked up its first Emmy win on Monday as “DMC: My Adoption Journey” earned the award for News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming. The program, which revolves around the Run-DMC member’s search for his birth mother, premiered in February 2006 and will re-air on VH1 on Saturday at 10 p.m. … Have you already imported Babyface‘s Playlist into your own playlist? Then mark you calendar — the singer is putting together a tour in support of his recently released LP. Babyface will play a gig in the Philippines on October 13, followed by a stretch in Japan; after that he’ll hit Oakland, California, on November 23, and Sparks, Nevada, the following day. …

During a recent visit to “The Howard Stern Show,” Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx spoke out about drummer Tommy Lee and his apparent departure from the band. He told Stern that Lee quit, and Sixx blamed the current legal problems the band is having with one of its former managers for the turmoil. Sixx said that, since Lee isn’t the Crüe’s frontman or chief songwriter, the band should be fine without him. He added that he harbors no ill will toward Lee. … Snow Patrol keyboardist Tom Simpson was expected to appear in court in Glasgow, Scotland, on Tuesday to answer to drug-possession charges filed against him this summer. While the charges weren’t dropped, the prosecution doesn’t intend on taking “further action,” meaning the charges will either have to be re-raised again or dropped altogether. …

Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard‘s side project Brad are getting back together for a one-night-only show on October 17 at New York’s Webster Hall. The benefit event will also feature Billy Bragg and be hosted by Tim Robbins. It is being held to support Woody and Marjorie Guthrie, and the 40th anniversary of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, which was founded by Marjorie. … Puddle of Mudd aren’t ones for Southern hospitality, apparently. Frontman Wesley Scantlin has been banned from Memphis’ Graceland after hopping in the pool in Elvis Presley‘s mansion during a tour on Monday. …

The Eagles will perform on an awards show for the first time when they take the stage at the Country Music Awards, which will air November 7 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Carrie Underwood is also slated to perform. … The Rolling Stones‘ recent tour didn’t just carry the band to the top of Forbes‘ list of biggest-earning music acts — it landed them in the Guinness World Records, according to Reuters. The classic-rockers’ A Bigger Bang tour took $437 million dollars to give them a new record, for the world’s most successful music tour. …

Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God will be teaming up for a late-fall co-headlining tour, which is set to kick off November 28 in Lowell, Massachusetts, with dates booked through December 17 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. DevilDriver and Soilwork will open on all dates. … Chris Cornell has added another round of dates to his North American tour, which began in the spring. He has booked another 28 gigs, meaning the trek will continue through November 23, when he’s expected to perform at the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. …

A photo from Elton John‘s collection has been pulled from a British gallery where it was to be displayed over concerns by police that it might be child pornography. The photo — which was taken by award-winning American photographer Nan Goldin — shows two young girls, one with her legs spread apart, and was to be displayed at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in northern England before it was seized by police, according to London’s Times Online. John released a statement, explaining, “The photograph entitled ‘Klara and Edda belly-dancing’ (1998) is one of 149 images comprising the ‘Thanksgiving’ installation by renowned U.S. photographer Nan Goldin … The photograph exists as part of the installation as a whole and has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world [and] has been offered for sale at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 and 2004, and has previously been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid [Spain], New York, Portugal, Warsaw [Poland] and Zürich [Switzerland] without any objections of which we are aware.”

09.25.07

While her fellow Black Eyed Pea Will.I.Am is hyping his new project, Songs About Girls, Fergie isn’t slowing down with her own solo affair, last year’s The Dutchess. The singer just shot a clip for the song “Clumsy” with directors Marc Webb (Diddy, the Pussycat Dolls) and Rich Lee (Chamillionaire, Dashboard Confessional). The surreal, humorous clip features Fergie falling head over heels — get it? — for love in various scenarios. …

A House panel cast a congressional light on hip-hop lyrics on Tuesday (September 25), with David Banner and Master P giving sharply different views. The Associated Press reports that the latter rapper (real name: Percy Miller) told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee that he is determined to create clean lyrics. “I want to apologize to all the women out there. I was honestly wrong,” he said of his prior material. Banner (real name: Levell Crump), on the other hand, defended his profane lyrics, saying, “Change the situation in my neighborhood, and maybe I’ll get better.” But while P and Banner didn’t see eye to eye in terms of who is responsible for derogatory language in hip-hop, they agreed that the government shouldn’t censor lyrics. “If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities. Drugs, violence, sexism and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed,” Banner said. According to AP, the hearing was similar to the 1985 event in which late rocker Frank Zappa made a feisty appearance also railing against censorship. …

Like the sound of the “Rocawear Arena” instead of the “Continental Airlines Arena”? Yeah, so does Jay-Z. The ambitious hip-hop mogul is bidding for the arena’s naming rights, according to New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. Although he is the co-owner of the New Jersey Nets and his Rocawar is a sponsor of the NBA team — which currently plays at Continental — sportswear maker Southpole has made the highest bid so far, $2 million. But there’s a catch: The reason the name is up for grabs is because Continental is backing out of its deal with the arena, and both the Nets and hockey team the New Jersey Devils are planning to move to other venues. …

Life isn’t getting any easier for Britney Spears. Kim Robard-Rifkin, the reported woman whose car the singer hit in August — for which she was charged with two misdemeanors on Friday — has spoken out to CelebTV.com. “I was not surprised with the criminal charges — this is what happens when somebody hits your car and runs — especially when it is all caught on video,” she said in a statement. Spears’ former bodyguard Tony Barretto also spoke out on Monday, telling “Today” show host Matt Lauer that he had witnessed her using drugs on two occasions. While Barretto did not specify which drugs he supposedly saw her taking, he said both incidents occurred at a nightclub in Los Angeles, one at the table she was sitting at and the other in a private restroom. When Lauer asked him about a third incident in which he alleges to have seen her strung out in a Los Angeles hotel room, Barretto replied, “I did.” …

Sarah Silverman was surprised by the reaction that met her controversial VMA monologue, in which she flung derogatory insults at Britney Spears, among others, she told Us Weekly. Regarding one of her saltiest remarks — that Spears’ kids “are the most adorable mistakes you will ever see” — Silverman replied, “The joke that everyone was upset about … was the most innocuous joke. It never occurred to me that [it] would be deemed hurtful or over the line.” She also told the magazine for its new issue, which streets Friday, “I don’t want to get into feuds with girls half my age. I’m in it to be funny and not for the drama. It’s embarrassing.” …

Look, up in the sky, it’s a new Gnarls Barkley album! And as Cee-Lo recently told MTV News of the follow-up to St. Elsewhere, “It sounds otherwordly. … It sounds like an original, if I do say so myself. The theme is progression and how there’s a first time for everything. You just have to go for it.” Beyond that, though, Cee-Lo didn’t want to give up too much. Asked about collaborators, he demurred: “Danger Mouse is my special guest. He’s my counterpart in the enigma of Gnarls Barkley.” No duh — we meant, anyone else? “Let me continue to surprise you,” Cee-Lo smiled. For those who caught Cee-Lo’s take on Prince’s “Darling Nikki” with the Foo Fighters at the VMAs, he wants fans to know that his performance at the show was supposed to be a surprise appearance with Amy Winehouse, “believe it or not.” But since she had to bail from the show, he’s saving that collaboration for a future appearance. …

The Sex Pistols — who just tacked two more gigs onto their upcoming November reunion in London, according to BBC News — have another trick up their collective sleeve: A newly recorded rendition of their punk staple, “Anarchy in the U.K.” The band entered the studio for the first time in 30 years to record the track, which will surface on “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.” … As I Lay Dying clearly have more than a few gasps left — the metal band edged out Switchfoot, Jason Mraz and others to win the San Diego Music Award for Artist of the Year. AILD nabbed the same honor in 2005. … Canadian singer/songwriter Patrick Watson and his band have pulled off an arguably more impressive feat: The Montreal quartet have nudged by Arcade Fire and Feist to land the Polaris Music Prize for Best Album. …

Despite the recent head injuries sustained by guitarist Brent Hinds, Mastodon have booked a gig, opening for the Queens of the Stone Age on October 29 in Los Angeles. The band is also scheduled to appear at the Vegoose festival on October 27 in Las Vegas, where Hinds was jumped following Mastodon’s performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Police claim Hinds was attacked outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on September 10 during an encounter with System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian and his friend William Hudson. According to police, Hudson assaulted Hinds, and Odadjian witnessed the incident. … While at the VMAs, Mastodon told MTV News that they wrote their best song ever — even though it’s not quite finished yet — while on the way to the big show. “It’s pretty much the best record we’ve yet to write,” guitarist Bill Kelliher said before singing a couple of the riffs with Hinds. “That’s how it goes — du-duh-du-duh na-nah-nah. We wrote it in the car on the way over here, at least the intro of it. Part one. We’re at the really beginning stages. It’s going to be awesome, though. Everything we do is amazing.” …

The Game entered his expected not-guilty plea on Tuesday to three felony counts stemming from a pickup basketball game in Los Angeles in February. The rapper (real name: Jayceon Taylor) is free on $50,000 bail and has a pretrial hearing set for October 30. … Jack Bauer might not be such a hero after all: Kiefer Sutherland was arrested early Tuesday morning for drunken driving in Hollywood, Reuters reports. The actor was pulled over after making an illegal U-turn and blew more than the .08 legal limit upon taking a breathalyzer test. He posted $25,000 bail at a Hollywood police station and is due in court on October 16. …

The Phil Spector murder trial is in the hands of the jury now, but that hasn’t stopped more bizarre developments from emerging in the case. According to AP, over the weekend, a threatening post appeared on a MySpace page possibly belonging to the music producer’s wife, Rachelle. “I love Phil Spector!!! The Evil Judge Should Die!!!! Xoxo Chelle,” read the post, a police spokesperson told the news outlet. The page, which features an image of Rachelle wearing a “Team Spector” tee, was referred to a sheriff’s department unit that investigates such threats. The post has since been removed. …

Amazon’s new digital-music store is up and running, with songs going for 89 to 99 cents and albums selling for around $6-$10. The songs, which don’t have copyright protections, can be burned onto CDs and copied to multiple computers. Record-label giants Universal and EMI, in addition to a flood of indie labels, are selling their songs through the site. … A former trustee in James Brown‘s estate might have misappropriated up to $7 million of the late music legend’s money, special administrators told a South Carolina judge on Monday. State Circuit Judge Jack Early told David Cannon, the former co-executor of Brown’s will, to pay $400,000 and produce additional documents. Early also said Brown’s family could pursue the claims. …

The Cult will headline the fall installment of the Jägermeister Music Tour, which is set to launch October 17 in Pala, California, and run through mid-December, with the full list of dates coming soon. Rounding out the bill will be Vietnam, the Cliks and Action Action. … Former L7 leader Donita Sparks is going out on her own with her debut solo effort, Transmiticate, due January 22. The effort, which will feature her new backing band, the Stellar Moments, shifts away from the grunge and metal sounds that defined L7 and tinkers with more pop and dance elements. …

Fans of Los Angeles ska act Hepcat are mourning the passing of bassist Dave Fuentes, 36. While details are scarce, the band did issue a statement, saying, “We are sad to announce that our brother, beloved bandmate and amazing friend, David Fuentes, is no longer with us. He will be missed by everyone but especially everyone in the Hepcat family.” He leaves a wife, Yohanna, and two sons, Andrew, 7, and Darren, 3. A memorial fund has been established to help his family. … A special-effects technician working on the set of the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” was killed when a truck carrying a camera platform rammed into a tree on Monday in London, AP reports. Filming was not taking place at the time of the accident, which is under investigation.