UPDATE (6/22): A judge has ruled in favor of Roc-A-Fella Records and prohibited Damon Dash from minting and selling Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt as a non-fungible token, Rolling Stone has confirmed (TMZ first reported the news). Representatives for Roc-A-Fella and Dash did not immediately return requests for comment.
Roc-A-Fella Records has sued its co-founder, Damon Dash, for allegedly trying to mint and sell the copyright for Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt as a non-fungible token.
According to the complaint, obtained by Rolling Stone, Dash planned to sell an NFT of the Reasonable Doubt copyright at an auction on the platform SuperFarm, which was set to take place June 23rd through 25th. Roc-A-Fella claimed it sent letters to SuperFarm and Dash stating the sale was “improper” and requesting the auction be canceled. While SuperFarm did cancel the sale, the label maintains that Dash is “in the process of finding another venue to consummate this improper transaction.”
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Dash slammed the lawsuit and claimed it was full of inaccuracies. Dash said he wasn’t trying to sell an NFT of Reasonable Doubt , but rather his stake in Roc-A-Fella Records after the label supposedly tried to purchase it at a low price.
“When another black man calls another black man a thief, just to make him look bad, and so that they can devalue an asset that that other man owns, just because he won’t sell it to him at a low price — I don’t think the culture needs that,” Dash said. He added: “I just think it’s disappointing to also have a white lawyer calling me a thief on Juneteenth. It’s very representative of what they do to someone when they try to make a good guy look like a bad guy, just because he’s doing good business.” (The lawsuit was filed, and first reported on by TMZ, on June 18th.)
Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Roc-A-Fella, directed Rolling Stone to the lawsuit and declined to comment further.
Jay-Z, Dash, and Kareem Burke co-founded Roc-A-Fella, and while Dash and Jay notably cut business ties in 2005, each of the three founders retains a one-third share in RAF, Inc. As Roc-A-Fella’s new lawsuit notes, however, Jay-Z’s original deal with his label stipulated that RAF, Inc. would be the sole owner of the rights to his albums, including Reasonable Doubt.
Despite RAF owning the copyright to Reasonable Doubt, the suit states that Dash intimated that he was the owner in the announcement for the NFT auction on SuperFarm. The lawsuit quotes the announcement, which begins: “SuperFarm is proud to announce, in collaboration with Damon Dash, the auction of Damon’s ownership of the copyright to Jay-Z’s first album Reasonable Doubt. This marks a new milestone in the history of NFT’s, entitling the new owner to future revenue generated by the unique asset… Selling the copyright to Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt as an NFT is a groundbreaking landmark — both for the crypto space and the broader music industry. The newly minted NFT will prove ownership of the album’s copyright, transferring the rights to all future revenue generated by the album from Damon Dash to the auction winner.”
In turn, the Roc-A-Fella lawsuit retorts: “The bottom line is simple: Dash can’t sell what he doesn’t own. By attempting such a sale, Dash has converted a corporate asset and has breached his fiduciary duties. His planned auction of Reasonable Doubt would result in irreparable harm. The Court should stop Dash from attempting to sell the copyright to Reasonable Doubt, require Dash to return the NFT of Reasonable Doubt to RAF, Inc., and hold him accountable for this brazen theft of RAF, Inc.’s most prized asset.”
While Dame confirmed that he was trying to sell his stake in Roc-A-Fella, he called the accusations surrounding the Reasonable Doubt NFT sale “false.” When asked about the SuperFarm auction details cited in the lawsuit, Dash replied: “There hasn’t been an announcement. There wasn’t an announcement at all. Don’t you think that if I made an announcement that I’m selling Reasonable Doubt you would’ve heard about it? What they’re accusing me of is minting a whole album. So if it’s already minted, it’s already on the blockchain, that means it’s already there. It never happened, and they know it never happened.” (A representative for SuperFarm did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment regarding the auction.)
He continued: “So there’s been no announcement, it’s not minted, none of that. No auction was shut down, you never heard of an announcement. You know this game. They did it on a Friday so it could just run the whole weekend to devalue my auction… It’s not fair to accuse somebody of being a thief publicly that’s not. That’s a really fucked up allegation to put on a man.”