Court calculating damages in iconic 'riddim' copyright case against Tony Rebel

Musician Wayne Lattibeaudiere will return to the Supreme Court on Tuesday for a hearing to assess legal damages in a copyright case involving reggae artiste Tony Rebel.

The copyright case revolved around the iconic La La Bella rhythm project which featured massive hit songs such as Everton Blender's 'Ghetto People Song', Ras Shiloh's 'Are you Satisfied?' and Rebel's own 'Jah is Standing By My Side'.

"I am the copyright owner, me and Rebel have been in court since 1998, he lost the case on a default judgement, he appealed the judge's decision and then him go Court of Appeal and lose it, so is damages we ah go deal with now," keyboardist Wayne Lattibeaudiere told OBSERVER ONLINE.

Lattibeaudiere is being represented by attorney-at-law Catherine Minto of Nunes Scholefield Deleon & Co.

In 2014, Rebel had appealed a decision of the Supreme Court to throw out an application to defend the copyright lawsuit.

At the time, Rebel, whose real name is Patrick Barrett, had wanted the Supreme Court to quash a 2006 default judgment and hence, allow him to defend the suit on the basis that he never knew about the ruling in the year 2006.

However, Justice Kirk Anderson held that since the documents were served on Rebel's attorney (Sandra Alcott who died years ago), the singer cannot say he did not have knowledge about the default judgment. The initial default judgment was entered in favour of Lattibeaudiere, after Tony Rebel failed to file certain documents within a specified period.

Lattibeaudiere claimed that Tony Rebel breached his copyright in relation to the composition of the rhythm ‘Going Home’ which was eventually released under the title ‘La La Bella’.

Interestingly, the assessment of damages hearing is coming up only days after one of the iconic songs, Everton Blender's 'Ghetto People Song' was sampled by American rapper-producer duo French Montana and Harry Fraud on a song called 'Higher'. The song appears on the duo’s new joint album, titled Montega. The song also samples the La La Bella rhythm on which Blender’s original track was featured in 1996.

Lattibeaudiere said he heard the sampled song on Monday morning after a friend sent it to him.

"Is a good thing, mi love it, mi really like how it sound, I don't really know the rapper but it is a good production," he said.

He said that he first realised that something was wrong in 1996 when the first batch of four songs, which included 'Ghetto People Song', was released without his name on the label. Eventually, he registered the rhythm project in the US Library of Congress, and filed the copyright suit.

"After 26 years...ah from 1996 this thing has been going on so justice is finally being served, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie said 'justice delayed will ultimately prevail', so mi use those words to keep mi, and mi just gwaan hang on, it was never easy," he said.

CLAUDE MILLS

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