Outkast and BMG label La Face could be facing an embarrassing lawsuit in the US after the Supreme Court there decided that civil-rights icon Rosa Parks could proceed with her legal action against the duo.
The action relates to Outkast’s 1998 track called ‘Rosa Parks’. Parks, of course, became an iconic figure in the US civil rights movement after she refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Outkast’s songs didn’t really deal with Parks’ story, or even name check her in the song. The only real reference to Parks was the line: “Ah, huh, hush that fuss/ Everybody move to the back of the bus.”
Either way, Parks filed a lawsuit against the song in 1999 on two main grounds – first that the song used her name and likeness without her permission, second that it defamed her character. The latter claim was previously rejected by a federal judge – La Face were hoping to have the former similarly thrown out of court on the basis that, given Parks’ status as a historical figure, Outkast did not need permission to use her name providing they didn’t do so in a derogatory way.
However the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed that plea, meaning 90 year old Parks is now free to continue that component of her original lawsuit in front of a lower federal court judge.
Neither Parks nor Outkast have commented on the latest decision.