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Rap Producer Dr. Dre Loses Lawsuit against Death Row Records

By Kamika Dunlap on June 14, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A judge tossed out a lawsuit by rap producer Dr. Dre claiming that his former label, Death Row Records, violated his rights of trademark and publicity by releasing a new version of his iconic album "The Chronic."

In analyzing the case, California District Court Judge Christina Snyder ruled that the alterations to the album were "minor and inconsequential." In addition, the image used on the cover jacket is the same photograph from the original album, instead of a more current photo, which may have implied Dr. Dre's endorsement. Specifically, the judge weighed the question of whether the changes to Dr. Dre's album were more than "cosmetic."

As previously discussed, rap producer Dr. Dre claims that his former record label, Death Row Records, which was bought out bankruptcy by a new entity, WIDEawake Death Row Records, released a new version of his album "The Chronic Re-Lit."

In doing so, he claims it violated his rights of trademark and publicity. The record label, however, said it only made slight adjustments, giving the album sonic clarity and a slightly louder volume.

But the judge allowed a second claim by Dr. Dre, that he hasn't been paid royalties, to go forward.

The rapper-producer claims he has not pocketed any of the royalties since he split with Death Row, in 1996.

"The Chronic" was a hit and sold more than three million copies.

Apparently, Dr. Dre had an oral agreement granting the label a non-exclusive license to release sound recordings in exchange for an 18 percent royalty rate. Now the rapper will go after the money allegedly owed to him.

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