Former business partners Jay-Z and Damon Dash have reached a settlement agreement over a lawsuit centered around a “Reasonable Doubt” non-fungible token.
An NFT is a digital asset representing real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos.
The pair, who in 1995 co-founded with Kareem “Biggs” Burke one of hip-hop’s biggest labels and brands, Roc-A-Fella, have come to a joint stipulation that Dash — or any other Roc-A-Fella shareholder — cannot mint Roc-A-Fella NFTs without authorization.
Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records sued Dash when Dash announced he was going to auction the iconic album “Reasonable Doubt” as an NFT. The auction was canceled. Released in 1996, “Reasonable Doubt” was Jay-Z’s debut album.
“The sale of this irreplaceable asset must be stopped before it is too late, and Dash must be held accountable for his theft,” Jay-Z’s June 2021 lawsuit read. “The bottom line is simple: Dash can’t sell what he doesn’t own.”
In turn, Dash filed his own suit, accusing Jay-Z of transferring streaming rights to “Reasonable Doubt” to his company, S. Carter Enterprises LLC, without authorization.
At the same time, Sotheby’s auction house was auctioning an NFT that Jay-Z had commissioned from the multi-disciplinary artist Derrick Adams to create to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Reasonable Doubt.” That NFT was called Heir to the Throne and sold for $138,600, Pitchfork reported.
Both lawsuits were dismissed without prejudice, leaving the door open for future suits.
According to the joint stipulation, Roc-A-Fella owns all rights to the album “Reasonable Doubt,” and no shareholder of the label has a direct ownership interest in the album. No one may not alter or dispose of any property interest in “Reasonable Doubt,” including NFTs.
“As reflected in today’s Joint Stipulation, this meritless lawsuit ended much as it began with each party in the same position as they were in prior to the commencement of this litigation,” said Dash’s lawyer Natraj S. Bhushan in a statement.
Jay-Z and Dash have long been at odds, especially after Roc-A-Fella Records was sold to its parent label, Island Def Jam, for $10 million in 2004. Dash often publicly complained he was not part of the negotiations, although he, along with JAY-Z and Burke, retained 50 percent ownership.
Under the terms of the new stipulation, Dash can still sell his one-third stake in Roc-A-Fella at any point in the future, Billboard reported.