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In Jay-Z NFT Case Damon Dash Says Roc-A-Fella Misled Court So Hold July 1 Hearing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 29 –  Roc-A-Fella Records on June 18 filed a lawsuit against Damon Dash, to try to enjoin him from selling the copyright to Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt.   Photo here. Order to Show Cause on Patreon here.

On June 21, Roc-A-Fella Records argued for and won a Temporary Restraining Order, in a proceeding before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John P. Cronan in which Dash did not show up. Inner City Press live tweeted it here, podcast here and below.

  After a Temporary Restraining Order was issued, now on June 25 Dash has responded with an affidavit that all that he was trying to sell was his one-third interest in Rockafella Records. He says Jay-Z underbid on his interest so he reached out to SuperFarm Foundation to assist in a potential NFT auction. Full declaration on Patreon here.

On June 28, Roc-A-Fella asked Judge Cronan to cancel the July 1 conference and simply issue the preliminary injunction since, it since, Dash has consented.

But not so fast. On June 29, Dash's Brooklyn-based lawyer wrote to Judge Cronan, saying the July 1 proceeding should be held since the TRO was obtained by misrepresentation. Full letter on Patreon here. Watch this site.

From June 21: Now Roc-a-Fella vs Damon Dash (except he has not shown up), hearing on Friday's request for an injunction against selling Jay-Z's "Reasonable Doubt" including via NFT

Roc-a-Fella's lawyer: Damon Dash cannot sell what he does not own. But the NFT auction was scheduled for tomorrow. It would be hard to collect money in the future from Mr. Dash - so we should get a stay. Conversion has already occurred.

 Roc-a-Fella's lawyer: We wrote to Mr. Dash but he did not stop. This is like art or jewelry, it's unique. There would be no unringing the bell if we don't stop him today. A stay would protect the public. This is a new technology.

 Judge Cronan: Tell me more about what NFTs are. If Mr. Dash does not own the copyright, who can he mint the NFT?

Roc-a-Fella's lawyer: Minting it, or putting it on the blockchain, allows anyone with crypto-currency to enter the auction and buy it.

Roc-a-Fella's lawyer: It's not like the art world, where has centuries of experience in trying to stop fraud. We saw Dash's press release, it proves he was trying to sell something he doesn't own.

 Roc-a-Fella's lawyer: Dash said he hoped to earn $30 million from this. Once it goes on the blockchain, anyone could claim they have title. We could have an international legal issue on our hands.

 Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: There would a lot royalty streams, almost impossible to measure. In WPIX, Inc., the court said as much. Also, the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting case - impossible to quantify.

 Judge Cronan: Has Mr. Dash been served with this?

 Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: We've dealt with two lawyers, and we've served Mr. Dash as well. Judge Cronan: Including my order scheduling today's conference? Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: Yes.

Judge Cronan: I will grant the application for a Temporary Restraining Order. The 2d Circuit standard has been met. Roc-A-Fella Records has shown a likelihood of success, based on the declaration from Mr. Carter and the contract.

 Judge Cronan: The records shows that Mr. Dash minted an NFT and was prepared to try to auction it.... There's the breach of fiduciary duty cause of action...

 Judge Cronan: With respect to unjust enrichment, Dash would be unreasonably enriched. He is only a partial owner of Roc-A-Fella Records. He cannot sell "Reasonable Doubt." There would be irreparable injury if a TRO does not issue. It's a unique asset.

 Judge Cronan: It's similar to the WPIX broadcasting rights case, although this is a newer technology, a "burgeoning new marketplace," in the plaintiff's language. Now, should the plaintiff post a bond? Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: We don't think it's necessary.

Judge Cronan: The next hearing is July 1. Any opposition is due June 25, reply June 29. I'd like to do the fact hearing in person. Since you're the only party for now, what's your view?

Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: If we get opposition, then in person makes sense.

Judge Cronan: I look forward to receiving any further submission. We'll be back together on July 1st. We are adjourned.

The Complaint says Dash "had planned to sell [it] at a SuperFarm Foundation online auction on June 23, 2021." 

   With that auction now canceled, the complaint continues, "Dash is currently frantically scouting for another venue to make the sale."  

 The accompanying draft Order to Show Cause would, if signed, enjoy Dash from "altering in any way, selling, assigning, pledging, encumbering, contracting with regard to, or in any way disposing of any property interest in Reasonable Doubt, including its copyright and including through any means, such as auctioning a non-fungible token ('NFT') reflecting such an interest." 

 The complaint notes that during the past year, the market for NFTs has exploded.

Now, this lawsuit, which Inner City Press will continue to follow. Watch this site.

The case is Roc-A-Fella Records, Inc. v. Dash, 21-cv-5411 (Cronan)


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