Nolan Heimann, LLP is proud to announce that George Clinton has defeated a defamation lawsuit brought against him by music publisher and record label owner Armen Boladian. After a two-week trial, a Los Angeles jury unanimously held that 20 statements in Clinton’s autobiography did not defame Boladian.
Clinton, the legendary singer-songwriter for Parliament/Funkadelic and all-around Godfather of Funk, has accused Boladian for years of stealing the copyrights to many of his most famous songs, including Atomic Dog, Flashlight, One Nation Under a Groove, and We Want the Funk (Tear the Roof Off) through altered documents, and failing to properly pay artists, and the two have battled frequently in court.
The latest lawsuit concerned statements Clinton made in his 2014 autobiography Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?: A Memoir that Boladian had “fabricated documents,” “robbed” Clinton of his songs, and “fraudulently backdated and altered” a written agreement between Boladian and Clinton.
In 1994, a United States District Court Judge held that Clinton did not sign the document used by Boladian’s company to record its rights with the Copyright Office. And in 1995, Boladian stated in a sworn declaration that he, in fact, altered the language of a 1982 written agreement with Clinton and added songs to the agreement, but did so pursuant to his power of attorney.During the trial, Clinton’s attorneys, Jordan Susman and Margo Arnold, of Nolan and Heimann LLP, shared with the jury the 1994 District Court decision, Boladian’s 1995 declaration, and affidavits from two of Boladian’s former employees affirming that he altered agreements after they were signed by Clinton and other artists.
After hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously held that the statements in Clinton’s book were not actionable because they were either true, matters of opinion, or not made with constitutional malice.
Susman stated afterwards, “This verdict is a win for George and the First Amendment. No one should be prohibited from sharing their life story, from their point of view, simply because it may paint someone else in a less than flattering light. Especially, as the jury held, when George had no reason to seriously doubt the truth of his statements.”
The verdict came days after Clinton celebrated his 80th birthday and announced that he is coming out of retirement to continue recording and touring with P-Funk.
Clinton stated, “I am grateful and overjoyed that a jury of my peers agreed that there is nothing defamatory in speaking my mind and sharing my life story. I will continue to speak truth to power, and to fight against the forces that have separated so many songwriters from their music. Investigate. Interrogate. Litigate. Unseal. Reveal. If we don’t get this right, then they win.”