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Chuck D Sues Over Publishing Deal He Claims Cost Him Ownership of Public Enemy's Music

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By Daniel Goldblatt

Rap legend Chuck D says that unbeknownst to him, he signed a publishing deal many years ago that stripped him of part ownership of Public Enemy, and now he's suing to try and get it back.

According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Chuck D claims in 2001, he entered in a publishing deal with a man named Michael Closter.

He claims that Closter convinced him to form a new independent music publishing company that would administer the publishing rights to his work, which included the rights to his works from his days with Def Jam.

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Instead, Chuck D claims Closter "created a complex master plan that involved, and still involves, unconscionable contracts, hidden transactions, false and fraudulent copyright registrations, and false incomplete accountings."

Chuck D claims the deal cost him in excess of $1 million and "the loss of a substantial portion of his music publishing catalog."

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According to the lawsuit, Chuck D says he did not discover the alleged scheme until February 2019, when he says Closter finally produced some of the documents which Chuck D claims he used to defraud him.

Chuck D says he determined that Closter's plan involved acquiring a 42% interest in his publishing catalog as it existed through 2012, which included "valuable rights in the music compositions he had authored and co-authored while under contract to Def Jam Music."

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In the lawsuit, Chuck D admits he was "not an experienced businessman nor was he assisted or represented by legal business or other counsel." He says he simply trusted that Closter was acting in his "best financial interest."

Chuck D is seeking the return of his copyright and suing for fraud. He is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

The Blast reached out to Closer and his company, Reach Music, but have yet to hear back.

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