Detroit Officials Sue Dr. Dre Over Up In Smoke Tour DVD

By | April 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Dr. Dre and others affiliated with a DVD recorded during 2000’s Up in Smoke Tour were hit with an invasion of privacy lawsuit Wednesday from several existing and former Detroit city officials who claim they were secretly filmed.

Greg Bowens, former press secretary for former Mayor Dennis Archer, Detroit Recreation Department official Phillip Talbert and three Detroit Police officers allege that hidden cameras illegally captured a private conversation backstage at Joe Louis Arena about an explicit video the officials banned from Detroit and nearby Auburn Hills shows.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, names several defendants, including Dre; Magic Johnson, whose company produced the tour; AOL Time Warner, which is distributing the DVD; Best Buy, which is selling it; and Panavision, which provided cameras for the producers of the DVD.

“The secret recordings were made as part of the original plan for the concert and the tour; namely to create backstage footage for the gangster-rap concert DVD,” the lawsuit claims.

Glenn Oliver, who is representing the plaintiffs, was not available for comment Thursday (April 25), but he told the Detroit Free Press that given the wealth of the companies being sued, he was asking for $3 billion.

“You have to make the punishment high enough so it deters the defendants and all others like them from doing this type of activity again,” Oliver told the paper. “What would you do if somebody took your image and put it on a T-shirt or a product and started making millions of dollars off it without your consent?”

Herschel Fink, Dr. Dre’s attorney in the matter, was also not available, but told the Detroit Free Press the footage on the DVD is protected by the First Amendment.

“It’s preposterous for them to say they didn’t know they were being taped because [the plaintiffs] were saying, ‘Shut off the camera,’ ” Fink told the paper. “I expect to ask for attorney fees and sanctions against Mr. Bowens, the four officials and their lawyers, because the lawsuit is absolutely preposterous.”

Dr. Dre has already been successful against Detroit officials once. After they kept the tour from showing a video that’s normally part of the concert, he sued them for violating his First Amendment rights (see “Dr. Dre Sues Detroit For $25 Million”) and won $25,000, apologies from both cities and court-ordered First Amendment training for Detroit Police.

The Up in Smoke Tour, which featured performances by Dre, Eminem, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Warren G (see “Dre & Em’s “Up In Smoke” Tour Readies Launch”), stands as the highest-grossing hip-hop tour in history

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