Back in February, a strange lawsuit was brought against both Martin Shkreli and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan surrounding the much-hyped, one-of-a-kind album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. A Long Island-based artist named Jason Koza sued both parties after discovering that some of his illustrations were used in the leather booklet that accompanies the album without his permission. Although he had been contacted about possibly contributing artwork to the album, he claimed nothing was ever finalized and that he did not know his work would make the final version.
Now, it looks like Shkreli caught a lucky break. According to a report from Billboard, he has officially been dropped from the lawsuit. Although he was only a secondary figure in the suit—which claimed he was partially responsible since he had purchased the album and shown it off to a Vice reporter in a video interview—it’s nonetheless very good news for him. “Mr. Shkreli did not agree to any conditions or pay any form of settlement in exchange for being dismissed from the case,” his lawyer said to Billboard. “In our view it is likely that Mr. Koza recognized that he would be unable to maintain an infringement claim against Mr. Shkreli in light of the fair use doctrine.”
The invocation of the “Fair Use Doctrine” is probably key to his dismissal. Media companies retain the right to use and publish parts of a work when they are reporting on or critiquing it. As such, Shkreli showing the artwork off to a reporter, even if its use was unauthorized to begin with, probably wouldn’t constitute any kind of copyright violation. While he remains one of the most hated people in America, it looks pretty unlikely that he’ll be shelling out any cash in this case. RZA and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan’s legal fate remains to be seen.