George Clinton Loses Songs

Judge rules that funk legend signed away music rights in 1983 contract

January 30, 2001 12:00 AM ET

A Florida judge ruled that Parliament/Funkadelic founder George Clinton is not entitled to the rights to the music that he wrote in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled on January 29th that the music written by Clinton between 1976 and 1983 belonged to Bridgeport Music, a Michigan-based publishing company. According to the judge, Clinton signed the rights away to his work in a 1983 contract. Hinkle also prevented Clinton from profiting from the songs, ruling that the singer did not disclose them in his 1984 bankruptcy filing as a source of possible future income.

Clinton argued that he had never signed a valid contract and thus was entitled to income from the songs. He also claimed in his lawsuit, filed in 1999, that he was deprived of money when a number of rap musicians used samples of his old songs but did not pay him fees.

A handwriting expert was called into the case and testified that the signature from 1983 was most likely Clinton's, refuting his claim that he did not sign the contract. According to Bridgeport president Armen Boladian, who testified at the trial, Clinton signed the deal so the company could retrieve more than a million dollars advanced to him during his financial troubles during in the Eighties.

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