Universal Seeks Dismissal of Tupac ‘Dear Mama’ Rights Dispute

Universal Music Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit Over Tupac Shakur’s ‘Dear Mama’

Universal Music has initiated the process of seeking dismissal of a lawsuit concerning the ownership and control of the publishing rights to the 1995 Tupac Shakur track ‘Dear Mama’.

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The litigation had been put on hold to facilitate mediation. However, Universal Music claims that Terence Thomas, also known as Master Tee and the producer behind the lawsuit, has become unreasonable in his demands. Therefore, the company aims to resume the legal proceedings to file a formal motion for dismissal.

Defendants in the case include Universal record label Interscope, Universal Music Publishing, various other music publishers, media companies connected to the 2023 ‘Dear Mama’ documentary TV series, and producer Tony D Pizzaro. The core of the dispute revolves around a conflict between Thomas and Pizzaro concerning events allegedly taking place in the 1990s.

Thomas’s Claims and Universal’s Response

Thomas asserts that he co-wrote, produced, and published the music in ‘Dear Mama’ in 1993, which consequently inspired Shakur to compose the lyrics in a single hour of inspiration. He alleges that Pizzaro, described as an “upstart music producer” at the time, colluded with executives at Interscope Records and Universal Music to conceal his involvement, allowing Pizzaro to take credit for the song.

In a new letter to the court, Universal disclosed that it had agreed to mediate the dispute after Thomas’s lawyer indicated that his client merely sought formal recognition for his contribution to ‘Dear Mama’ and a fair writer’s royalty. However, Thomas’s subsequent demand for a $1.6 million or $200,000 cash settlement, along with a 15% writer’s royalty and doubled producer royalty, was deemed unrealistic by Universal, given the substantial disparity with Shakur’s estate’s 8.33% royalty.

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The Dispute and Allegations

Thomas filed a lawsuit last year claiming that he co-wrote, produced, and published ‘Dear Mama’ in 1993, citing a handwritten note allegedly penned by Shakur at the end of recording sessions in that year, crediting Thomas as the producer. He alleges that Pizzaro strategically excluded him from rightful credits, leading to Pizzaro gaining undue recognition and reputation in the music industry at his expense.

Universal intends to argue in its motion for dismissal that Thomas delayed raising concerns about his involvement in creating ‘Dear Mama’, a track released in 1995, and that he should have addressed the issue sooner. Thomas maintains that he was unaware of Pizzaro’s actions, as they transpired while Shakur was incarcerated, and he discovered the truth only after watching the ‘Dear Mama’ documentary series.

Potential Resolution and Legal Proceedings

Thomas claims he was receiving royalties through BMI for his work with Shakur but was unaware of being excluded from additional earnings related to ‘Dear Mama’. However, Universal contends that Pizzaro had long been claiming credit for the song, which Thomas should have addressed earlier, given Pizzaro’s public assertions about his role in creating the track.

Universal argues that proceeding with mediation would incur unnecessary expenses, especially in light of Thomas’s demanding stance. Additionally, Pizzaro has not yet participated in the legal process, and it remains unclear if he has been formally served with legal documents. Universal suggests that since Thomas views Pizzaro as the primary wrongdoer, his involvement is crucial for a comprehensive resolution of the case.

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To expedite the legal proceedings, Universal has requested the court to lift the standstill order that paused Thomas’s litigation, enabling them to file their motion for dismissal.

As the case unfolds, the intricacies of copyright ownership and rightful credits in the music industry come to light, showcasing the complexities involved in preserving artistic integrity and recognizing genuine contributions from all parties involved.

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