George Clinton, one of the preeminent fathers of the funk, has defeated a defamation lawsuit that was brought against him by Armen Boladian. Boladian, a music publisher and record label owner, took Clinton to trial, which lasted two weeks.
A Los Angeles jury unanimously concluded that Clinton did not defame Boladian in his autobiography.
For years, Clinton has accused Boladian 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.
Almost 30 years ago, 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. In 1995, Boladian submitted a sworn declaration that he, in fact, altered the language therein a 1982 written agreement with Clilnton and added songs to the agreement, but did so thereunder his power of attorney.
Interestingly enough, during the trial, Clinton and his attorney, Jordan Susman and Margo Arnold, of Nolan and Heimann LLP, share the 1994 District Court decision with the jury, 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.
With said information revealed, the jury concluded that statements in Clinton’s book were not actionable because “they were either true, matters of opinions, or not made with constitution malice.”
“This verdict is a win for George and the First Amendment,” Susman stated via press release afterwards. “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 a milestone 80th birthday with friends, family, and close associates. He also announced that he is coming out of retirement to continue recording and touring with P-Funk, recently gracing the stage at New York City’s Central Park as part of its SummerStage celebration.
“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,” the Funkmaster said in the press release. “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.”