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New York court blocks Damon Dash from selling Reasonable Doubt NFT – for now

By | Published on Wednesday 23 June 2021

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

A judge in New York yesterday issued a temporary restraining order telling Damon Dash that he is currently “restrained and enjoined from altering in any way, selling, assigning, pledging, encumbering, contracting with regard to, or in any way disposing of any property interest in [Jay-Z’s debut album] ‘Reasonable Doubt’, including its copyright and including through any means, such as auctioning a non-fungible token (‘NFT’) reflecting such interests”. So that’s him told.

The injunction follows a complaint from the record label that Dash co-founded and still owns a stake in, that being Roc-A-Fella Records, which released and controls the recording rights in ‘Reasonable Doubt’. The other shareholders in Roc-A-Fella – which no longer operates as a frontline label – are Jay-Z himself and Kareem Burke.

The legal filing from Roc-A-Fella Records alleged that Dash had minted and tried to sell an NFT that would assign the rights to ‘Reasonable Doubt’ to the buyer. However, despite being a shareholder in Roc-A-Fella, Dash does not directly own or control the recording rights in the Jay-Z album, and is therefore in no position to sell those rights. Dash’s original NFT auction was cancelled, but reps for the label’s other shareholders said they suspected he was planning another sale.

For his part, Dash told TMZ that the lawsuit misrepresented his NFT sale and in fact he was selling his share in the label, rather than any actual intellectual property rights, allowing the buyer to receive his cut of monies generated by the label’s catalogue. However, the buyer wouldn’t actually have any direct control over the label’s copyrights.

Either way, in the short term Dash is barred from participating in any transaction in any way linked to Jay-Z’s debut album. He now has until 1 Jul to tell the court why the temporary restraining order shouldn’t be made permanent.

This story is discussed on this episode of our Setlist podcast