Rebecca Black vs. Ark Music Factory: Is the ark splintering in copyright lawsuit?

Rebecca Black versus Ark Music Factory causes Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson split

Rebecca started off Friday with some “funny,” taking over the Funny Or Die website in Bieber-like fashion for all of April Fool’s. But she ended it with some “die”, as this Rolling Stone scoop makes apparent. That’s the message her family’s lawyers are sending to Ark Music Factory’s Clarence Jey and Patrice White: Die.

I suppose it had to come to this. The popularity was too quick. The money was too big. The window was wide open but who knows how long it would remain so.

But here’s the upshot as Rolling Stone reports it: “Black…and her mother, Georgina Marquez Kelly, are accusing Ark Music Factory, which produced ‘Friday,’ of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of publicity rights.” According to Black’s mother, they did this by “exploiting her likeness and her song on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Ark’s website;” created and distributing an unauthorized “Friday” ringtone; and “advertising Black as an exclusive Ark recording artist on its website.”

Perhaps the most interesting dimension of the accusations, however, is that AMF has apparently refused to hand over the master recordings of the song “Friday” and the corresponding video, both of which propelled Rebecca to skyrocketing fame, but also put AMF founders Jey and White in the spotlight – a glare that has been both positive and negative for the pair.

Clarence Jey, Patrice White and Abby Victor at the Ark Music launch party

(Above: Clarence Jey (left) and Patrice White (right) with AMF artist Abby Victor)

The positive aspect is clear: they have written songs, produced tracks and videos that have created a phenomenon. And not just Rebecca’s “Friday”, the novelty aspect of which is apparent to anyone who watches the video, but lesser known but still buzzworthy Alana Lee, Abby Victor and Kaya Rosenthal, all of whom have had amazingly healthy YouTube video counts and a quick buildup in fan followings.

Nobody can take that away from them (unless you count the Black family literally taking the masters, that is!)

At the same time, Jey and White have been lambasted for their production style and White in particular getting ridiculed for his ubiquitous appearances in AMF videos. We here at Starcasm have seen some of the nasty, brutal comments sent their way. But it’s the entertainment industry, and one has to assume that they’re big boys enough to handle it.

Some of the other revelations in the Rolling Stone article:

• Black’s family paid $4,000 for the song and music video
• According to the family’s lawyer, they have an “agreement that she signed with Ark in November (that) stipulates that Black has 100 percent ownership and control of ‘Friday,’ including the master recording and the music video.”
• Patrice Wilson admitted that Rebecca Black is not nor ever was an “exclusive artist” to AMF

But AMF is not sitting on the sidelines as Rebecca’s lawyers roll them over:

… Ark’s lawyer, Barry Rothman, cast doubt on the validity of the November agreement. “The agreement was not court-approved,” Rothman said. “They say they own the composition. Nothing could be further from the truth. If they go forward and license it or attempt to copyright it in their name, that would be copyright infringement and we’d act accordingly under the circumstances.”

He added: “We’re not prepared to engage them in producing documents just because they want them, without a court order or litigation. We’d like to see Rebecca Black’s career go forward and we’re trying to accomplish that in the context of working through the legalities.”

As for Clarence Jey, he is upset that Rebecca Black’s family has contended that they exploited her. Nothing could be further from the truth, said Jey, as he contended strongly that they acted as Rebecca’s record label in building up her track and promoting it to the world – all with the family’s seeming approval…until money became involved.

You would think that as legal sniping towards AMF began, the friendship and professional collaboration between Clarence Jey and Patrice White would strengthen, but that is not the case. Indeed, Clarence Jey expresses dismay that White has frozen him out of the AMF website. And that’s not all:

“Yesterday we were supposed to have a meeting at my attorney’s place. I didn’t hear from him all day. He sent me a text message late at night saying, ‘Sorry, brother, I’ve had a busy day.’ In the meantime he’s going around saying I’m not with Ark.”

Stay tuned to Starcasm for more developments. Will this be a total sinking of the Ark Music ship? What does this mean for Alana Lee, Abby Victor, and the rest of the artists with AMF. Will Patrice and Clarence get it back together or will one or both part the scene?