Rosa Parks Song Settlement

Attorneys for Rosa Parks have settled a 1999 defamation and trademark infringement lawsuit against OutKast and others stemming from the use of the civil rights icon’s name in a song.

In addition to an undisclosed cash settlement, co-defendants Sony/ BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records, LaFace Records and OutKast will partner with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to create educational programs. A tribute album and television special about Parks are also part of the deal.

Sony/BMG did not admit to any wrongdoing. Company attorney Joe Beck said the defendants were pleased with the resolution.

“We think it will go a long way towards teaching a new generation about Rosa Parks and her accomplishments, and we appreciate Mrs. Parks’ and her attorneys’ acknowledgment of the First Amendment in protecting artistic freedom,” Beck said.

The lawsuit claimed the 1998 OutKast song “Rosa Parks” violated her publicity and trademark rights and defamed her. It also claimed the record companies used her name without her permission. The suit asked that her name be removed from future versions of the record and was seeking unspecified damages.

The song did not mention Parks in its lyrics, only in the title.

A judge dismissed OutKast from the complaint in July 2004 because the individual members weren’t specifically named. The following month, Parks’ attorneys filed a second lawsuit seeking more than $5 billion from Sony/BMG, its subsidiaries and the Barnes & Noble and Borders book store chains for selling albums featuring the song.