Judge Drops Da Bomb on George Clinton

ByABC News

T A L L A H A S S E E, Fla., Jan. 30, 2001 -- A judge ruled that American funk music star George Clinton can not keep rights to music he wrote in the late 1970s and early 1980s — work worth more than $100 million in profits, the singer's Web site said.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said Monday that the music written between 1976 and 1983 belonged to Bridgeport Music, a Michigan-based music publishing company that Clinton signed the rights away to in a 1983 contract.

Hinkle also barred Clinton from profiting from the songs, saying the singer did not disclose them in a 1984 bankruptcy filing as possible future income.

Funkster Was Hoping for Millions

Clinton, 60, argued that he never signed a valid contract. The lawsuit, filed in 1999, also claimed that he lost money from rap music artists using samples of his old songs but not paying fees.

Clinton declined comment as he left the courthouse, the Tallahassee Democrat reported in today's editions.

"We literally were expecting millions of dollars out of this," said Don Wilson, Clinton's attorney. "This just means we regroup and decide how to exploit the songs we do have rights to."

Clinton signed the deal so the company could retrieve more than a million dollars advanced to him during his financial troubles in the 1980s, Bridgeport Music president Armen Boladian testified.

Handwriting Expert Testifies

A handwriting expert testified that it was likely the signature was indeed Clinton's, refuting Wilson's claim that his client did not sign. Wilson added that the agreement was worthless because Clinton's wife, Stephanie, co-owned the music rights and would have had to also sign the contract.

Clinton, a Tallahassee-area resident, was the founder of the popular funk group Parliament, which later changed its name to Funkadelic. His hits include "One Nation Under a Groove," "Flashlight" and "Atomic Dog."

Parliament-Funkadelic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

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