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Missy Elliott hits back in ongoing producer legal battle

By | Published on Tuesday 20 October 2020

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott has filed more legal papers in her ongoing dispute with producer Terry Williams. He is trying to get a lawsuit she has filed against him dismissed.

The dispute is over recordings Elliott made in Williams’ studio all the way back in the 1990s. She alleges that, in 2017, the producer tried to sell her those recordings via a representative who implied that, if she didn’t do the deal, Williams would shop them somewhere else. Elliott insists that he can’t do that because she is the sole copyright owner in those works.

The producer was first to go legal in the dispute, accusing Elliott of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. She then sued through the courts in Florida back in August. He is now trying to get that litigation dismissed, partly on jurisdiction grounds, and partly by arguing he is a co-owner of the copyright in the disputed music.

On the jurisdiction point, Elliott argues that the fact Williams is based in Delaware, not Florida, is not relevant. In her new legal filing, she states: “That [the] defendant’s deliberate targeting of a longstanding Florida resident may have been directed from Delaware where he lives is irrelevant”.

“Moreover”, she goes on, “because defendant, a Delaware resident, does not remotely provide a sufficient explanation as to why litigating in Florida would be especially onerous … and because Florida has a ‘manifest interest’ in providing its residents with a convenient forum for redressing injuries inflicted by out-of-state actors, the exercise of jurisdiction also comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice”.

The new legal filing also takes issue with the justification Williams has used for why he should be deemed a co-owner of the copyrights in the disputed tracks. “Defendant’s subjective belief that because plaintiff and defendant have previously been credited as authors on a publicly-released song defendant can automatically claim joint authorship over each of plaintiff’s compositions underlying the unpublished recordings is plainly without merit”, it says.

Also, it adds, “defendant misapprehends the requirement that parties must intend to share the rights of authorship to create a joint work”.

And so the dispute rolls on.