Wu-Tang Clan Settles Artist’s Copyright Complaint Over Album Cover

Once upon a time, there was a lawsuit.

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin... Photo: YouTube.
Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin...
Photo: YouTube.

Artist Jason Koza has settled his legal complaint against Robert “RZA” Diggs, the leader of Staten Island rap outfit Wu-Tang Clan, which allegedly used his artwork without authorization.

“The dispute has been resolved,” Koza’s lawyer, Peter Scoolidge, told artnet News in an email. An attorney for Diggs could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jason Koza's portrait of Ol' Dirty Bastard. Photo: via Instagram.

Jason Koza’s portrait of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Photo: via Instagram.

Koza filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against drug baron Martin Shkreli and the rap collective in Manhattan Federal Court in February after finding out that the musicians had used his art without permission in the packaging of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin…, a one-of-a-kind album that Shkreli bought for a reported price of $2 million. The artwork included Koza’s portraits of nine members of the group.

BURBANK, CA - OCTOBER 02: L-R) Rappers Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Raekwon, RZA, Masta Killa, GZA, Cappadonna and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan pose at a press conference to announce they have signed with Warner Bros. Records at Warner Bros. Records on October 2, 2014 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Rappers Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Raekwon, RZA, Masta Killa, GZA, Cappadonna and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan pose at a press conference in 2014. Courtesy of Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Also named in the lawsuit, which sought an unspecified amount for statutory damages, were Wu Tang producer Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh and Paddle8, the online auctioneer that sold the record. Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, had been dropped from the case in April; an unnamed source told the New York Post that “his purchase agreement carries a clause indemnifying him from costs that question the legitimacy of the sale.”

Shkreli became infamous when he hiked the price of Daraprim, an antimalarial drug used to treat parasitic infections. He earned further infamy by bragging that he didn’t even plan to listen to the record, but instead bought it solely, as Reuters reports, “to keep it from the people.” The contract for the sale of the record stipulated that it would not be released commercially for 88 years.

In a classy touch, the text of the legal complaint begins thusly: “Once upon a time a great artist named Jason Koza lived in Copiague, New York.”


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