As we reported yesterday, the court of appeals upheld a partial summary judgment against Tuff-N-Rumble, co-holder of the copyright of “It Ain’t My Fault” with the song’s writers, Smokey Johnson and Wardell Quezergue. Since we’ve been trained by courtroom dramas on TV and movies to assume a win’s a win, it’s useful here to point out that that’s not so. In this case, the court of appeals upheld Judge Ethel Simms’ judgment that Tuff-N-Rumble hasn’t demonstrated that it spent money on legal fees defending the copyright of “It Ain’t My Fault” on behalf of Johnson and Quezergue in the suit against No Limit for Silkk the Shocker’s use of the song in his “It Ain’t My Fault.” No judge has yet made any final ruling on their suit, so the case isn’t over.
That is, however, a significant ruling. Tuff-N-Rumble has argued that it doesn’t owe Johnson and Quezergue any royalties because they’ve all been offset by money spent on their behalf – an arrangement that wasn’t specified in either Johnson or Quezergue’s contract. Without that position, it’s hard to see how Tuff-N-Rumble can continue to claim that it doesn’t owe Johnson and Quezergue money. At some point, the question is going to be how much they’re owed, and it’s hard to imagine that’s going to go any easier or quickly than this portion – which took almost a year from Simms’ ruling to the appeal decision – has.