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Judge denies Jay-Z’s request to give deposition off camera, but comes up with novel solution to leak fears

By | Published on Wednesday 2 October 2019


Jay-Z’s long-awaited deposition in a case brought against him by a perfume company will be filmed, despite his protestations. However, the judge in the case offered an unusual compromise to allay his fears of the video leaking to the press.

Judge Andrew Borrok said that he understood Jay-Z’s privacy concerns and the damage leaks could have on his personal brand and business – quoting some of the rapper’s own lyrics to prove his point. However, he noted that giving a deposition off camera was unprecedented and that various other celebs – including Mariah Carey, twice – had made filmed depositions for the same New York state court.

Fragrance company Parlux sued Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter – back in 2016 accusing the rapper of failing to meet his commitments to plug Gold Jay-Z, a perfume that it had launched in partnership with him. Progress towards a trial has been slow, as Jay-Z and his legal team have resisted various requests from the plaintiffs – including to see the rapper’s personal diary, in order to track his movements around the time he was supposed to be promoting the perfume.

Jay-Z’s deposition – where he would answer questions in relation to the case under oath – was supposed to take place in August but was cancelled. At the court hearing yesterday, the perfume company was seeking sanctions against him and reimbursement for costs incurred when he pulled out of the pre-trial interview. Jay-Z’s side, meanwhile, argued that their continued concerns for his privacy legitimately warranted a delay in him being questioned.

The rapper and his lawyers are seemingly particularly anxious about the video of the deposition leaking as the opposing side is likely to ask detailed questions on “sensitive matters about Mr Carter’s personal and professional life”, including the contents of his personal diary. His attorney Andrew Bart said that there was “genuine concern” that leaks could harm his name and image, which are the things his entire business is based upon.

“I get it. He’s not a businessman. He’s a business, man”, said Borrok, demonstrating his knowledge of the rapper’s lyrics, according to Law360. However, the judge denied the request for the deposition not to be filmed, noting that there is a confidentiality agreement in place barring anyone involved from handing over the video to the press (or anyone else).

While each party in the case will receive a watermarked copy of the tape, which would identify any leaker, it is standard practice for the videographer to keep an unwatermarked copy and for a digital version to be held in online storage. It is these versions that Jay-Z is apparently worried about. And on which the judge came up with an unusual solution.

Agreeing that no online version would be created, he then asked: “Why can’t the original be destroyed?” He told the lawyers on both sides that after the watermarked copies were created “you should destroy the [original] together”.

I’m now imagining some sort of party where they burn it. Or maybe they could throw it into a car crusher. That would be cool. I’m sure they’ll think of something.

Borrok also denied Parlux’s request for sanctions and reimbursement. With all the issues ironed out, the deposition is now set to take pace – with cameras – this Friday.

Parlux claims that it lost $18 million due to Jay-Z failing to promote the perfume in the manner he had agreed to in their contract. The rapper denies this and counters that he is still owed almost $3 million by the company.