Producer Dr. Luke and the estate of the late hip-hop artist Juice WRLD are facing a lawsuit over royalties for Juice’s 2022 track Not Enough.
Songwriter and performer Pierre DeJournette, who also goes by PD Beats, alleges in a new lawsuit that the song’s rightsholders haven’t been paying him his fair share for co-authoring Not Enough, which appeared on Juice WRLD’s posthumously released 2021 album Fighting Demons.
“PD Beats contributed original guitar, performance, and production to [Not Enough] in addition to writing the beats and programming the [drum machines] in [Not Enough],” states a complaint filed with the US District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday (October 17).
“Defendants have released, marketed, distributed, and monetized [Not Enough] without accrediting or providing PD Beats his proportional share of the revenue.”
DeJournette and the other rightsholders “equally own the copyrights in the composition” of the song, asserts the complaint, obtained by MBW, which can be read in full here.
“Because [Not Enough] is a ‘joint work’ the co-authors must account to other co-authors for any profits earned from licensing or using the copyright.”
As defendants, the complaint names Universal Music Group, owner of Interscope Records, which released Fighting Demons, as well as Carmella Wallace, Juice WRLD’s mother, as a representative of the artist’s estate.
The lawsuit also names as a defendant music publisher Opus Music Group, which acquired a large stake in Juice WRLD’s catalog earlier this year.
In addition, the suit lists a number of Not Enough’s co-writers and producers, including Lukasz Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke), Chris Barnett (aka CB Mix) and Keegan Christopher Bach (aka KBeazy).
MBW has reached out to UMG for comment.
Juice WRLD, whose given name was Jarad Anthony Higgins, signed to Interscope in 2017 and landed a big hit with his first album, 2018’s Goodbye & Good Riddance. That album included the track Lucid Dreams, which arguably remains Juice WRLD’s biggest hit, with more than 2.3 billion streams on Spotify and more than 930 million views on YouTube.
Not Enough has also proven to be a hit, despite never having been released as a single. It has garnered more than 59 million streams on Spotify and more than 7 million streams on various versions of the song on YouTube.
Juice WRLD died in December, 2019, after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport following a flight from California.
Since his death, Juice WRLD’s estate has been releasing material posthumously. Two of Juice WRLD’s four full-length albums have been released on Interscope since his death: 2020’s Legends Never Die and 2021’s Fighting Demons, which includes Not Enough.
DeJournette’s complaint states that he believes the defendants “dispute [DeJournette’s] contentions with respect to the true authorship” of Not Enough.
DeJournette is listed as a co-author on the song.
The lawsuit asks for an official declaration that DeJournette “jointly authored the musical composition” for Not Enough and that he and the defendants hold “equal undivided interests in the copyright and publishing rights” to the song. It also asks for the share of profits attributable to DeJournette’s ownership in the song, along with court costs.
This isn’t the first time Juice WRLD’s work has been the subject of a legal dispute. In 2019, shortly before the rapper’s death, Lucid Dreams was the subject of a copyright infringement suit brought by pop punk band Yellowcard. The band alleged the song infringed on their 2006 track Holly Wood Died.
That case was brought by Nashville-based attorney Richard S. Busch, a partner at King & Ballow Entertainment Law who has been involved in a number of high-profile copyright cases. He represented the estate of Marvin Gaye in its successful copyright infringement case against the co-creators of Blurred Lines, Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, which ultimately led to an award of almost USD $5 million.
However, Yellowcard dropped the Lucid Dreams lawsuit following Juice WRLD’s death.
“My clients are very sympathetic not only of Juice WRLD’s death, but also needed time to decide whether they really wanted to pursue the case against his grieving mother as the personal representative of his estate,” Busch told the New York Times at the time.Music Business Worldwide