According to Alan “Skill” Cole, the Marleys and Island Records are trying to rob him in much the same way Bob Marley and Chris Blackwell cheated and robbed the illiterate Barrett Brothers.
Cole filed a lawsuit against Tuff Gong and Island Def Jam claiming they cheated him of his writing credits on songs sung by Bob Marley. While it is clear cut that the Barrett brothers were robbed because they played on every song on every album released by Bob Marley and is not getting any royalty payment, Cole’s claim is not so straight forward. The reason is, one of the song he is claiming writing credit far is War. However, it is not secret that the writer for the lyrics to war was none other than H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I.
In fact, Cole only found out he was stiffed out of his copyright credit when he attempted to transfer half of his ownership in War to the family of Emperor Haile Selassie. The other song that Cole had writing credit for but was not on the copyright is Natty Dread. The Marleys and Island Records have the former manager of Bob Marley listed as just a “work for hire” on the copyright. Cole claims he was never hired by the Marleys or Tuff Gong.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Pennsylvania federal court.
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.
The Barrett brothers failed to win any monetary compensation on court because of the contract they had signed. So if Cole did indeed sign the contract that shows Tuff Gong as “employer for hire” he might have no chance in court, regardless of whether or not he was truly employed by Tuff Gong.