George Clinton forced to sell songs to cover debt

on January 07, 2013, 11:40am

george clinton copy George Clinton forced to sell songs to cover debt

In news that’ll make you say, “What the funk?”, Parliament Funkadelic overlord George Clinton has been forced to hand over the copyrights to four songs in order to cover the debt owed to his former attorney. As TMZ reports, the Hendricks & Lewis law firm was awarded the trademarks to “One Nation Under A Groove”, “Hardcore Jollies”, “The Electric Spanking of War Babies”, “Uncle Jam Wants You” stemming from a 2010 court case.

The firm, who represented Clinton from 2005 to 2008, won the $1.5 million lawsuit after claiming Clinton had not paid any legal fees during his time as a client. New documents reveal that Clinton has only thus made payments equaling $344,000, and the copyrights for each song will remain with Hendricks & Lewis until the debt is recouped in-full. As the legal owners of each tune, the firm can sell or market the songs as they see fit.

Clinton has filed a motion to reverse the decision.


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Philip James Cenedella
January 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm January 8, 2013 —- . In a brief filed before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit yesterday, attorneys for Rock and Roll legend George Clinton have made the latest move in the on- going legal battle with the law firm Hendricks and Lewis. Clinton is asking the court to review the decision of the lower courts which granted H&L the rights to four of Clinton’s most popular recordings and dismissed Clinton’s claim of malpractice.

The latest move is Clinton’s attempt to seek justice and counteract a series of rulings that Seattle based Hendricks and Lewis has been able to “obtain” through local courts. These rulings include one which prohibited Clinton from pursuing a malpractice claim Clinton brought against the firm and attorney O. Yale Lewis in particular. That claim stemmed from Lewis’ failure to meet a crucial deadline which greatly impaired Clinton’s case against music giant UMG.

Lewis was Clinton’s attorney on a number of cases from 2005 – 2008. During which period Clinton paid Lewis nearly $2 million but Lewis contends that Clinton still owes him $1.6 million. Lewis has a history of similar conflict with celebrity clients, having been sued by Courtney Love Cobain and The Jimi Hendrix estate over improprieties concerning billing and/or representation.
Clinton was actually prevailing over Lewis in California courts in this dispute when Lewis filled a similar case in his home state of Washington. While the case was still under consideration in Los Angeles the proceedings in Seattle somehow went faster and a judgment was issued favoring Lewis. Clinton’s attorneys then sought to have the case reheard but were denied. Clinton is appealing the decision.

One thing is certain: Clinton has created some of the most valuable musical compositions and recordings in the history of music, judging by all of the ex-managers, agents, publishers, and lawyers who are profiting – or hope to profit- from the revenue Clinton’s music has generated.

Aaron Poehler
January 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Headline isn’t quite accurate, as he wasn’t forced to sell the songs but rather forced to relinquish the copyrights to his debtors.


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