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Martin Shkreli sued for copying and playing Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ without permission

Martin Shkreli has been sued for copying and playing Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘One Upon a Time in Shaolin’ without the group’s permission.

The former hedge fund manager and ‘pharma-bro’ memorably purchased the single existing copy of the album in an auction for $2million (£1.4m) in 2015. He bought the album under a legal agreement stipulating that the album could not be commercially exploited until 2103, though it could be played at listening parties.

Shkreli played clips of the album during a livestream in 2017 despite the restrictions, then tried to sell the album on eBay – and received an offer for $1.2million (£940,000), but the sale was never completed. He was then forced to hand over the album following his conviction for securities fraud, when $7.4million (£5.8m) worth of assets were seized by a federal court.

From there, the US Department of Justice sold it to Pleasr for $4million (£3.1m) in 2021, in a bid to cover Shkreli’s debts. The collective said at the time that it would find a way to make it accessible to fans and the rest of the world.

Now, Shkreli has been sued by PleasrDAO, the digital art collective who now owns the album, for copying the album and playing it for online audiences without permission.

Martin Shkreli (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

According to the lawsuit (filed June 10 in a Brooklyn federal court), Shkreli violated conditions of his legal agreement by making copies of the album and playing it publicly. Shkreli last played the album on X the day before the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, PleasrDAO stated: “Any dissemination of the Album’s music to the general public greatly diminishes and/or destroys the Album’s value, and significantly damages PleasrDAO’s reputation and ability to commercially exploit the Album.”

The collective and their representing lawyer want Shkreli to destroy any remaining copies of the album, surrender any profits he’s made from sharing the music, and pay compensatory and punitive damages.

Additionally, US district judge Pamela Chen has issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Shkreli from disseminating the album, or risk contempt of court. It’s possible she may issue a further injunction later this month.

There was no comment from lawyers who have represented Shkreli. Shkreli, however, has mocked “super nerds” PleasrDAO and defended his actions on X/Twitter.

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