Robinhood app preps defense for Ice Cube lawsuit

The company claims they had the legal right to use the rapper's image for editorial purposes. 

The popular trading app Robinhood is gearing up for a legal battle with rapper Ice Cube after using his likeness and misquoting one of his lyrics to promote the brand.

Cube hit the financial services company with a lawsuit in March after his image from the 2007 film Are We Done Yet?, along with a paraphrased lyric from his ‘Check yo self’ track, was used in a Robinhood newsletter without his permission, according to TMZ. The March 8 edition of Robinhood Snacks was titled, ‘Why are tech stocks falling?’ and featured Ice Cube (born O’Shea Jackson) along with the caption, “Correct yourself, before you wreck yourself.” (See the post here.)

The rapper’s lawyers say Robinhood misappropriated Cube’s likeness by “falsely associating him with their brand.”

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“The advertisement creates the false impression that Ice Cube supports and endorses Robinhood’s products and services,” the lawsuit states. “This is especially true as the advertisement (mis)quotes the most well-known lyric from Ice Cube’s hit single ‘Check Yo Self’. In truth, Ice Cube absolutely does not, and never would, support Robinhood’s products and services”.

Robinhood claims they had the legal right to use the image for editorial purposes. The company is seeking to have the case quickly dismissed, per THR.

“He conveniently leaves out that the photograph is actually a still shot which depicts his character from the movie, ‘Are We Done Yet’ – copyrighted work he does not own,” explained Robinhood’s lawyer, Mitchell J. Langberg

“Remarkably, [Ice Cube] does not identify a single lost sale or other particular damage resulting from Defendants’ alleged misconduct, despite the fact that he is required to do so to establish standing under both federal and state law,” Langberg added. 

The finance firm wants the court to dismiss Ice Cube’s litigation, “on the grounds that plaintiff lacks standing under federal and state law and that the complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted.”

“Specifically”, it continued, “defendants’ noncommercial conduct does not satisfy the commercial use requirement for each of plaintiff’s claims, plaintiff’s claims are barred by the First Amendment, plaintiff’s claims are preempted by or conflict with federal copyright law, defendants are immune under S230 of the Communications Decency Act, plaintiff has no rights in the materials that form the basis of his claims, and plaintiff otherwise has not plead tenable claims.”

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Cube’s contends that Robinhood started using his image to get back at his business partner, Jeff Kwatinetz, who filed a lawsuit against the company. An attorney for the hip-hop icon calls Robinhood the “antithesis of everything that Ice Cube stands for.”

Robinhood is using a First Amendment defense, arguing that they could legally use Cube’s image for a blog article.  

“No, we didn’t use his image without permission. The image was licensed and used for non-commercial, editorial purposes in connection with a blog article,” a Robinhood spokesperson said.

“This is Robinhood exhibiting lack of respect for the law or the people they hurt,” Ice Cube said in a statement.

A judge will hear Robinhood’s motion to dismiss on June 3.

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