Skill declares War on Tuff Gong

Alan ‘Skill’ Cole, a former manager and confidante of Bob Marley, has reportedly sued Tuff Gong and Island Def Jam Music Group over copyright ownership to the Marley song War, for which he is credited as writer.

The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard Magazine report that Cole recently discovered he does not own the copyrights to War and Natty Dread, another Marley song for which he has writing credits.

His lawsuit was filed Thursday in Pennsylvania federal court.

According to Billboard, Cole hired a lawyer in May to help him transfer half of his interest in War to the family of former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. It was then that the lawyer discovered Tuff Gong Music holds the copyright as the “employer for hire”.

“[Cole] was led to believe that the songs were being copyrighted for him by the record company,” states the complaint. “[Cole] was never employed by Tuff Gong Music.”

Cole, a former Jamaica national footballer, is suing Tuff Gong and the Island Def Jam Group, a division of Universal Music group (UMG) and successor in interest to the copyright.

Billboard reports that he wants the court to enter a declaratory judgment that the labels infringed on his copyrights by “fraudulently substituting others as the authors” and to require that the labels provide an accounting and pay Cole for all income they have received as owners of the copyright.

UMG and Tuff Gong did not respond to a request for comment, the Billboard story read.

Cole and Marley were close friends since the late 1960s, having first met in Trench Town where Marley once lived. He was part of Marley’s inner circle and is credited as co-writer with Rita Marley (the singer/songwriter’s wife) of Natty Dread, which is from Marley’s 1974 album of the same name.

War, an interpretation of Selassie’s 1936 speech to the League of Nations, appears on the 1976 Rastaman Vibration album.

Marley died from cancer at age 36 in May 1981.

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