WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled on Wednesday they may dismiss a legal fight between a Miami music producer and Warner Music (WMG.O)opens new tab over a song by rapper Flo Rida.
Some of the justices during arguments in the case questioned whether they should decide the monetary damages issue raised in plaintiff Sherman Nealy's lawsuit against Warner before resolving in separate litigation the proper time limit for filing copyright suits.
Two music publishing companies - Warner Music's Warner Chappell as well as Artist Publishing Group - have appealed a lower court's ruling that defendants in copyright infringement cases can be held liable for actions that occurred prior to the three-year statute of limitations for filing such litigation.
Nealy has said that his label Music Specialist owns rights to the electronic dance song "Jam the Box" by Tony Butler, also known as Pretty Tony. Warner artist Flo Rida, whose given name is Tramar Dillard, incorporated elements of "Jam the Box" into his 2008 song "In the Ayer."
Nealy's label ceased operations before he started serving a 20-year prison sentence for cocaine distribution in 1989. He served a second sentence from 2012 to 2015.
Nealy sued Warner Chappell and others in Florida federal court in 2018, arguing that they took an invalid license to "Jam the Box" from Butler, his former business partner, while he was incarcerated. The producer said he did not learn of the license until 2016, and requested damages for copyright infringement that allegedly began as early as 2008.


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