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This story first appeared in the May 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
If 8 Mile needs a sequel, there’s no better material than the duel between attorneys Howard King and Richard Busch last March in a Los Angeles courtroom. The two argued over whether “Blurred Lines” infringed a Marvin Gaye song. It won’t be the last time they see each other in court. King and Busch have been circling each other for years. It’s the kind of relationship that only Dr. Dre (connected to King) and Eminem (connected to Busch) could produce. And it hardly stops there. Just as the two were going to trial in the “Blurred Lines” case, King was bringing a legal claim against another of Busch’s big clients. Here’s a look at the history between the two lawyers:
2001: The Dre Affair
Busch reps Bridgeport Music over a Funkadelic sample that turned up in a rap song by N.W.A. King wasn’t directly involved, but Dr. Dre, one of the members of N.W.A, is one of his biggest clients. In 2005, the suit results in a landmark ruling: “Get a license or do not sample.” Busch says he’s settled a few cases involving Dre songs over the years. Pictured above: Dr. Dre, right, with Jimmy Iovine.
2007: The Shady Case
Busch represents Eminem’s production team, which sued Universal over digital royalties from Eminem songs. As it happens, one of King’s partners wrote the contract in dispute and is put on the stand. Busch wins on appeal in a decision that would lead to many more lawsuits against major record labels over digital royalty accounting.
2007: Shady 2
In another case, Busch sues Apple over whether it can sell Eminem‘s music on iTunes. King is sucked in because Dre’s firm wrote Eminem’s publishing contract. King wasn’t representing anyone in the case, but he did submit a declaration. The case settled in 2009 after it went to trial.
2013: Got to Give It Up
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, repped by King, sue first to head off copyright threats over “Blurred Lines” from the Gaye family, repped by Busch. (Originally, the lawsuit included as a defendant Bridgeport Music, a long-time Busch client who brought the 2001 lawsuit over a N.W.A. sample.) The Gayes countersue and end up with a $7.4 million verdict for Gaye’s heirs. But appeals will go on for years.
2015: Idol Issues
In January, King files a claim to get Idol winner Phillip Phillips out of his deal with the show’s producer, 19 Entertainment, repped by — you guessed it — Busch. The latter attorney currently represents 19 in a royalties dispute with Sony Music. Before King filed a lawsuit, he put 19 on notice. Busch was the attorney who responded in kind.
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