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‘Straight Outta Compton’ Defamation Lawsuit Continues

By Amanda Wicks

Jerry Heller’s lawsuit against NBC Universal concerning its film Straight Outta Compton will move forward, but only because the judge ruled that one of his claims stood. The rest were all thrown out.

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Heller is suing the entertainment company for defamation of character after the way the film portrayed him (played by Paul Giamatti), according to The Hollywood Reporter. Throughout the film, he’s painted as someone who lied, cheated and scammed the burgeoning rap group. According to U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald, the film is allowed to show Heller in that light because of certain statements he made in his book Ruthless: A Memoir.

The one thing keeping the lawsuit afloat? Heller’s claim that he never discouraged members of N.W.A. from seeking legal counsel before signing a contract with him.

The judge ruled, “The Film arguably portrays Plaintiff as an exploitative record label manager who attempted to take advantage of an unsophisticated artist by discouraging him from retaining an attorney during contract negotiations.” He added that viewers would see such actions in a negative light (as opposed to a neutral light), which gives Heller’s defamation claim substance to continue.

Whether he’ll actually win the defamation lawsuit remains to be seen, but the judge says that Heller is allowed to continue pursuing this case in court. As of now, though, it will be limited to the one claim.

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