Freeway Ricky Ross Lawsuit Against Rick Ross Dismissed

Freeway Ricky Ross Lawsuit Against Rick Ross Dismissed

Former drug kingpin Freeway Rick Ross has lost his battle in court against rapper Rick Ross over the use of his name, after an appeals court ruled in the rapper’s favor.

According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Judge Roger Boren ruled in a California court last week that the Rick Ross v. William Leonard Robert lawsuit would be dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

“We recognize that Roberts’ work — his music and persona as a rap musician — relies to some extent on plaintiff’s name and persona,” writes the judge. “Roberts chose to use the name ‘Rick Ross.’ He raps about trafficking in cocaine and brags about his wealth. These were ‘raw materials’ from which Roberts’ music career was synthesized. But these are not the ‘very sum and substance’ of Roberts’ work.”

Ultimately, Boren found that Ross’ persona is entitled to protection as expressive speech because it’s transformative.

“Roberts created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin turned rapper,” says the ruling. “He was not simply an imposter seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits — some of which related to plaintiff. Using the name and certain details of an infamous criminal’s life as basic elements, he created original artistic works.”

Freeway Rick Ross ruled the Los Angeles street during the 1980s as a cocaine trafficker, once selling as much as $3 million worth of the drug in a day.

After serving 13 years in prison, and being released in 2009, Freeway Ross had pursued the rapper in court for appropriating his name and likeness, seeking damages in excess of $10 million, and naming Warner Bros. Records, Universal Music and Jay Z as defendants.

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