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Bob Marley’s Family Fight Over Music Rights

The family of the late Bob Marley are in a music licensing battle that could force one of the two upcoming biopics to proceed — if they so choose — without any of the reggae legend’s hit songs. Marley’s estate is refusing to give the Weinstein Co. — the company behind the film adaptation of Rita Marley’s book ‘No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley’ — rights to license the music because the icon’s catalog is already being used in the upcoming Martin Scorsese documentary.

“When I sold the film rights to my book,” Rita Marley told the Hollywood Reporter of the snafu. “The contract did not include any rights to use my husband’s music.”

Unfortunately for Rita, who’s taken on the role of executive producer for the Weinstein project, the majority of the family seems to be backing the Scorsese film. “All our efforts and support are currently directed toward the documentary,” the film’s executive producer, and oldest son of Rita and Bob, Ziggy Marley said. “We believe that this project is the best way to represent our father’s life from his perspective, and any other film project pertaining to our father will be empty without his music to support it.”

Timing is also an issue. The estate fears that the biopic, which is slated for a 2009 release, will conflict with Scorcese’s February 10, 2010 release date. “Martin Scorsese doesn’t want to go out with a competing project, and [producer] Steven Bing has made deals with companies [that are now compromised],” Blue Mountain Music head Chris Blackwell told the Reporter. “The Weinstein project has put the documentary into jeopardy.”

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