Dr. Dre and the Deep Note
Hip Hop Hypocrite
When the Napster maelstrom hit the recording industry, Dr. Dre, along with Metallica, was one of the first to hurl accusations of copyright infringement at the popular file sharing site.
Dr. Dre is furious that people are using Napster to download his song "Lolo" without permission or license - an obvious "copyright infringement". The irony is that the prominent feature of that song is a sound that Dr. Dre appropriated without permission or license - an obvious "copyright infringement"?
How deep is the note?
Empire Strikes Back
If you've been to a movie with THX sound, you've heard the "Deep Note"; the heavily panned and faded sonic boom that accompanies the THX logo.
Allegedly, some time ago Dr. Dre requested permission from Lucasfilm, the purveyor of the THX technology, to use the famous sound for incorporation into one of his songs. According to Lucasfilm, they denied Dr. Dre's request to use the sound.
Despite the lack of permission or license to use the copyrighted material of Lucasfilm, the "Deep Note" is prominently featured on Dr. Dre's best-selling album, 2001. At the beginning of the first track, no less.
Consequently, Lucasfilm has filed suit against Dr. Dre (as well as the labels, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records) seeking unspecified damages for copyright infringement.
Dr. Dre slaps Musicmaker
Besides slamming Napster, Dr. Dre also appeared in a related story by demanding that Musicmaker.com immediately remove any of his songs from their website. Musicmaker is a custom-compilation and download site, and it had recently announced a licensing deal with Dr. Dre's former label, Death Row Records. The Musicmaker website listed 27 of Dr. Dre's songs for use in custom compilations.
According to Andre Young's (Dr. Dre's real name) attorney, when Dr. Dre left Death Row Records, his departure contract gave the label rights only to material "in the same configuration as then had been previously publicly released," and that masters "shall only be distributed in the manner heretofore distributed." Presumably, this means that Death Row can only reissue pre-existing CDs and cassettes.
Dre's attorney told Musicmaker that Death Row "has no right to distribute individual tracks containing Mr. Young's performance, whether by digital download or traditional compact disk distribution" and that "by distributing this product to the public, you act as an aider and abetter of this copyright violation..."
Musicmaker responded that "the documents that were made known to us show that they [Death Row] have the rights to give us rights." Right.