HITS Daily Double
"We disagree with the verdict. Since the jury was not allowed to consider all of the evidence presented in this case, we are confident when they do, we will prevail."
——An IDJ spokesman


Jury Declares Def Jam Tried to Interfere with TVT Release of Cash Murda Click Album Featuring Ja Rule, Label Also Charged with Copyright Infringement
The Island Def Jam Music Group was found liable for fraud, "willful, vicarious and contributory" copyright infringement and wrongful interference with a recording contract in a unanimous decision by an eight-person jury in Manhattan federal court last Friday (3/21). The decision came after trial of a suit filed by TVT's Steve Gottlieb against Def Jam last August. The New York-based label is seeking $30 million in damages.

An IDJ spokesman claimed the label would appeal the decision: "We disagree with the verdict. Since the jury was not allowed to consider all of the evidence presented in this case, we are confident that when they do, we will prevail."

The dispute revolves around TVT's claim that IDJ interfered with a contract the label had with Irv Gotti and rapper Ja Rule to produce an album by Cash Murda Click, a group featuring Ja Rule that was signed to Gottlieb's indie label in 1994. At the time, Gotti was an executive at TVT before branching off and starting his own Murder Inc., which signed a deal with Island Def Jam.

Although TVT didn’t release a CMC album as originally planned—at the time, one of its members, Christopher Black, was serving time in prison—the label decided to put out an album of new material by the rap act in the fourth quarter of 2002. Gottlieb decided to sue last August, after Gotti pushed back the CMC album from its original November 2002 release date so that he could complete Ja Rule's Last Temptation album for Murder Inc./IDJ. TVT complained that the interference prevented the album from being released as scheduled. In a sworn deposition taken last September, IDJ stated it told Gotti that it would not permit TVT to release the CMC album.

In January of this year, with the lawsuit already well under way, Gotti finally turned in eight completed tracks to TVT, promising to deliver the remainder of the album by spring.

IDJ legal rep Chuck Ortner insists the judge in the case left out two important pieces of evidence. One was a letter from IDJ to TVT agreeing to the project and to deliver the tracks; the other was a statement from Gotti, who insisted he and rapper Rule intended to hand over the new tracks as soon as work on them was completed.

In addition, IDJ was found liable for willful copyright infringement related to Def Jam's distribution of TVT's recording "Get Tha Fortune" on a DVD released last July. IDJ executives denied ever having seen the DVD prior to the filing of TVT's lawsuit. The label was also found liable for copyright infringement related to the recording "The Rain," which Gotti had made for TVT to be released on the CMC album, but first appeared on Def Jam's CD version of Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc. The jury has been ordered back to determine damages on April 28.