Hip hop superstar Jay-Z recently sued a small online Australian retailer for profiting from the use of his name and hit song “99 Problems” in books that teach children the alphabet.
Shawn Carter, best known by his stage name Jay-Z, filed a lawsuit with the Federal Court of Australia on 22nd November 2019. He claimed that Australian brand “The Little Homie” infringed on his intellectual property.
The Age newspaper reported that, according to the American rapper’s lawyers, the company traded on his likeness and infringed on the copyright of the lyrics to “99 Problems”.
The Little Homie advertises on its website a “hip-hop inspired” children’s book called “A B to Jay-Z” for Au$34.95. It also has a colouring book of the same name for Au$19.95.
Meanwhile, the back pages of the books riff off the lyrics to “99 Problems” — “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABC’s ain’t one!” — a photo posted on The Little Homie’s website showed.
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The lawsuit said Jay-Z asked the company to stop selling the books in March 2018. However, it continued to “deliberately and knowingly” use his likeness and lyrics in a “flagrant, glaring” manner, according to The Age.
The use of the rapper’s name, image and lyrics was “calculated to injure, has injured and is continuing to injure the reputation and goodwill of Mr Carter,” it continued.
Jessica Chiha, the founder of The Little Homie, is named as a respondent in the case. Chiha raised Au$8,000 on Kickstarter in 2017 for the book. It teaches the alphabet using an A-Z of hip hop artists. She then described it as being designed for “the next generation of hood rats”.
Her online store also stocks titles such as “1 2 3 With the Notorious B.I.G.”. It promotes the forthcoming “First 50 Words With 50 Cent”.
The Little Homie has not yet filed a defence to the claims. Also, its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jay-Z’s Australian lawyers declined to comment on the “99 Problems”.
Meanwhile, the court scheduled the case for an initial hearing on 6th December 2019.
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