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DJ Envy’s Real Estate Scam Scandal, Coldplay’s Battle With Ex-Manager & More Top Music Legal News

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This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.

This week: A deep dive into allegations that NYC radio host DJ Envy was complicit in a multi-million dollar real estate scam; an explainer on the ugly battle between Coldplay and its longtime manager; a new Senate bill aimed at protecting artists from AI-generated fake vocals; and much more.

THE BIG STORY: Top NYC Radio DJ In Hot Water

After news broke last week that DJ Envy, the co-host of the nationally-syndicated hip-hop radio show The Breakfast Club, was accused of taking part in a real estate scam, Billboard dove deep into the complex web of lawsuits, countersuits and bankruptcies that lay out the full picture of the allegations.

In at least 20 civil cases filed in recent months, dozens of investors claim that Cesar Pina and wife Jennifer Pina — New Jersey house-flippers with famous friends — took their money with promises of big profits only to return little or nothing. Lawyers for some of the victims estimate that more than 30 investors have already come forward, seeking over $40 million from the Pinas.

Many of those lawsuits name DJ Envy (RaaShaun Casey) as a co-defendant, citing his close ties to Pina and claiming he used his platform to lend legitimacy to the alleged schemers. One case says Envy “aided and abetted” the fraudsters by “using his public likeness as a well-known radio disc jockey to promote their real estate scheme.”

Envy says those kinds of allegations are not only false — he says he himself is also a victim of Pina’s alleged scheme — but also defamatory. He’s suing the social media influencer who first publicized the claims, claiming he “spewed” lies to promote his own real estate business, and he’s demanding to be dismissed from the investor lawsuits.

Who is Cesar Pina? What are he and Envy accused of doing? What comes next? For the full story, go read our entire deep-dive on the messy scandal.

Other top stories this week…

COLDPLAY LEGAL BATTLE EXPLAINED – With Coldplay involved in a nasty back-and-forth legal battle against former manager Dave Holmes, Billboard’s London correspondent Richard Smirke pored over all the legal docs and broke down everything we’ve learned from the allegations – like the band’s claim that it incurred $21.5 million in touring costs overruns because of Holmes.

LAWMAKERS TARGET AI FAKES – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators released draft legislation aimed at protecting musical artists and others from artificial intelligence-generated deepfakes and other replicas of their likeness, like the infamous “Fake Drake” song released this spring. The so-called NO FAKES Act, which would create a federal right for artists, actors and others to sue those who create “digital replicas” of their image, voice, or visual likeness without permission, is one of the first concrete legislative proposals in the wake of the sudden growth of AI tools over the past year.

DON PASSMAN INTERVIEW – The legendary music lawyer sat down to chat with with Billboard’s Glenn Peoples, talking about the challenges and opportunities posed by AI; about labels “bidding against each other out of FOMO”; about how he thinks artists “now have a lot of power to demand things that they’ve never gotten before in history”; and about his “philosophy” on the catalog sale mania: “For most people, I think it’s a mistake, and I try to talk them out of it.” Go read the full interview here.

MAREN MORRIS DIVORCE – The country star filed for divorce from husband Ryan Hurd after five years of marriage, saying that she and Hurd were “unable to live together successfully as husband and wife” and were “experiencing irreconcilable differences in their marriage.”

SONOS VERDICT OVERTURNED – Five months after Sonos won a whopping $32 million patent infringement judgment against Google over smart speaker technology, a federal judge overturned it on the grounds that the patents involved in the case were invalid. And he didn’t mince words: “This was not a case of an inventor leading the industry to something new. This was a case of the industry leading with something new and, only then, an inventor coming out of the woodwork to say that he had come up with the idea first — wringing fresh claims to read on a competitor’s products from an ancient application.”

MOBB DEEP SUED OVER LOGO – Mobb Deep and the streetwear brand Supreme hit were hit with a trademark lawsuit over their recent collaboration on t-shirts, filed by a New York City hardcore punk band (Sick of It All) that claims that the legendary hip hop duo stole their dragon-shaped logo. Apparently, the two musical acts have been quietly battling over their nearly-identical logos for decades.

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