Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.

510 U.S. 569 (1994)

Roy Orbison.

This case features a controversy between two very different artists. Roy Orbison was one of the most respected musical performers of all time. Some of the biggest names in rock-and-roll have either worked with him or praised his influence, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Tom Petty. Besides The King himself, Orbison is the only performer to ever have two albums in the Top 5 of the Billboard Charts at the same time.

In contrast, 2 Live Crew was one of the most controversial rap groups of its time. Their first commercial album, The 2 Live Crew is What We Are was so sexually explicit that a Florida sales clerk was charged with obscenity, but acquitted, for selling the record to a 14-year-old girl. Another clerk was charged and convicted, this time in Alabama, for selling the group's second disc, Move Somethin'. Even though this conviction was overturned on appeal, it was the group's third album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, that gained national attention. This time, both a sales clerk and members of the group were arrested in Florida on charges of obscenity. The notoriety from these arrests caused the album to sell over two million copies.

The album's lyrics were too graphic to play on the radio, so the group released an alternate, media-friendly version of the album entitled As Clean as They Wanna Be. It was on this record that 2 Live Crew included its parody of Pretty Woman. You can listen to both Roy Orbison's original and 2 Live Crew's parody here.

Shortly after this lawsuit was resolved, George Lucas filed suit against 2 Live Crew's manager Luther Campbell for naming his studio Luke Skyywalker Records. Campbell settled out of court for $300,000 and changed the name to Luke Records.