Former Billy & The Essentials 'doo-wop' front man sues over copyright infringement

By Jon Campisi | Jul 16, 2012

The former lead singer of a 1960s doo-wop band has filed suit against a New York-based

The former lead singer of a 1960s doo-wop band has filed suit against a New York-based

recording company and one of its principals over allegations that the defendants illegally offered up for sale electronically downloadable copies of the plaintiff’s works.

The copyright infringement suit was filed by Philadelphia attorney Simon Rosen July 11 at the federal court in Philadelphia on behalf of William V. Carlucci, of Media, Pa., which is located just outside of Philadelphia in Delaware County.

The defendants named are Floral Park, N.Y.-based Crystal Ball Records and company principal Ed Engel.

According to the complaint, Carlucci, who back in the 1960s was the front man for the group Billy & The Essentials, entered into an oral agreement with the defendants in the late 1990s by which the defendants would pay Carlucci $1,000 in exchange for the manufacture and distribution of 500 vinyl albums of the plaintiff’s sound recordings.

The terms of the agreement, the suit claims, further provided that in the event the defendants sold out of the 500 albums, the parties would renegotiate renewal terms.

The defendants did, in fact, sell out of the 500 records and the parties renegotiated the terms, which provided that in exchange for Carlucci receiving four boxes of compact discs, worth a total of $1,500, the defendants were permitted to manufacture, distribute and sell three hundred CDs.

No other written or oral agreement was entered into between the two parties, the lawsuit states, however, in 2009, Carlucci discovered that the record company and its executive were selling, and offering for sale, Carlucci’s sound recordings and musical compositions without Carlucci’s permission or consent.

In addition to physical product, those sales included digital downloads of the plaintiff’s works, the suit claims.

In November 2009, Carlucci retained legal counsel who subsequently sent a cease and desist letter to the defendants, according to the complaint.

To date, however, the defendants have ignored the plea to cease and desist, and “continue to unlawfully sell, and offer for sale, plaintiff Billy’s sound recordings and musical compositions, without plaintiff’s permission and consent, in violation of the law,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint contains counts of statutory copyright infringement, common law copyright infringement, breach of oral agreement, unjust enrichment, fraud/deceit/misrepresentation and accounting and constructive trust.

Carlucci seeks unspecified compensatory and exemplary damages, litigation costs, counsel fees and injunctive relief.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-03934-LDD. 

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