LOCATION: THE UNITED STATES
Lil Wayne & Young Money Ent., a 51 million dollar lawsuit and Contract law
The rappers are keeping on suing each other like there is no tomorrow. The latest of the news in the world of heavy lawsuits is the one between the rapper Lil Wayne (Songs such as Drop the World and Right Above It & founder of the record label Young Money Entertainment (founded 2005, a subsidiary under the parent company Universal Music Group) ) and the record label Cash Money Records (founded 1991, also a subsidiary under the parent company Universal Music Group). Lil Wayne is now suing the co- founder of the Cash Money record label, Birdman, claiming the right to get paid 51 million dollars.
The central issue of the lawsuit is reportedly Lil Wayne´s contract with Cash Money Rec. According to the filed documents, the rapper have claimed that he has been underpaid and the record label has been violating the terms of the contract by refusing to release the album Tha Carter V album in January 2015. The rapper also claims that Young Money Entertainment and Lil Wayne were supposed to receive a 100 million dollar advance from the parent company Universal Music Group in order to produce the album Tha Carter V, which instead was paid directly to Cash Money Rec. An advance that Birman and Cash Money Rec. has been withholding ever since, according to the lawsuit.
On the other hand, according to Birdman and Cash Money Rec., the contract obliged Lil Wayne to deliver 21 albums over 7 years, both by Lil Wayne himself but also through his crew of Young Money Entertainment- artists (such as Drake, Tyga and Nicki Minaj). Since Lil Wayne only had delivered 13 albums under the Cash Money Rec. label so far, they claim this is a violation of the contract too.
In other words, the background of the lawsuit is a legal mess with different claims. Among many issues, an object of the 51 million dollar lawsuit seems to be the interpretation of the contract and what the parties have agreed. This in the field of contact law – a field which in Sweden is mainly regulated through different principles of interpretation guidelines and a certain law called Avtalslagen. When parties are having a disagreement of the content of the contract, a lawyer/the court will first try to define this content by undertaking contract- interpretation (avtalstolkning).
By swedish principles, this is firstly done by examining the written documents between the contracting parties as this is considered as a presumption for the common will of the parties (den gemensamma partsviljan). If the content of the contract can not be defined through the written documents, the lawyer/the court will try to determine the parties common will in the specific contract through an examination of the parties earlier contracts or dispute settlement (partsbruk). If the content of the contract once again fails to be determined, the lawyer/the court will investigate the trade custom in the certain business; e.g here – the record label industry (handelsbruk). The last way for the lawyer/court to determine the content of the certain contract is by studying the law, for example Avtalslagen, which is partly dispositive.
The content of the contract / the common will of the parties is the starting point from which the dispute will be handled, which makes it truly important for the outcome of the verdict.
It will be interesting to see how the court in the US will solve the different issues between Lil Wayne / Young Money Entertainment and Birdman / Cash Money Records. One subsidiary will win and one subsidiary will lose. However, it seems like their parent company, the record label- giant Universal will win either way.
It is to be continued if the 51 million dollar claimed eventually will join Lil Wayne´s collection of young money, or if it will stay with the older money of Cash Money Records.