French Montana‘s latest copyright infringement courtroom victory has been downplayed by a judge who said the win was nothing but a technical one.

HipHopDX has obtained a copy of the court order ruling in favor of the Moroccan-American rapper, which was filed on Thursday (January 4). In the document, Judge Nancy Maldonado of the Northern District of Illinois noted that this was the second time she was hearing the matter for a potential summary judgment motion.

The document was filed in the hopes of addressing matters that weren’t brought up in the first case that Judge Maldonado decided last April. And while she once again ruled in favor of the COKE Boys CEO (real name Karim Kharbouch), she did caution him that he only won because of technicalities.

“The Court finds that Kharbouch is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” she wrote in her memorandum. “Kharbouch’s motion for summary judgment is therefore granted, judgment will be entered in his favor, and the case will be dismissed. The Court notes this is a technical win for Kharbouch, based on the factual and legal record before the Court, which he should not claim as a substantive victory

Back in April, HipHopDX obtained a copy of the original 29-page ruling by Judge Maldonado, which is dated March 30, 2023.

In the original judgment, Maldonado ruled that the rapper was granted what’s known as a summary motion for three of his five disputes against producer Eddie Lee Richardson

Richardson, who sued the “Lockjaw” rapper in 2019 for copying his copyrighted instrumental song, “Hood Pushin’ Weight,” already had conceded three of the five points in the lawsuit, making it easy for Maldonado to rule in French’s favor.

However, Maldonado denied French Montana’s request to rule that “any infringement was innocent or not willful

Richardson also claimed, in the lawsuit, that French Montana added the lyrics to the song, “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’,” and added remixes with other artists — including Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Miley Cyrus — without Richardson’s expressed permission.

Richardson also claimed that the Moroccan-American rapper had been distributing the song on Apple Music since 2013

However, in her ruling, Judge Maldonado stated that Richardson’s claim for damages stemmed not from the recording of “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’” itself, but from the 378 live performances of the song since April 2016 — and this crucial error is what caused her to deny the producer’s motion.

As a matter of law, wrote Maldonado, the issue is whether a copyright holder (in this case, Richardson) “has an exclusive right to the public performance of his copyright depends on whether his work is registered as a ‘sound recording’ or a ‘musical composition.

“While [the] plaintiff can pursue a claim based on the distribution of his work under either type of registration, if the plaintiff only has a ‘sound recording’ copyright, then he can only maintain a copyright infringement action for performances of his work by ‘digital audio transmission.’”

For what it’s worth, French Montana claimed in the lawsuit that he made no money off of any of the 378 live performances of the song since April 2016 — so even if the judge ruled in Richardson’s favor, French Montana wouldn’t have any money to give Richardson for it anyway.

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