Former drug kingpin Freeway Ricky Ross lost his lawsuit against rapper Rick Ross (born William Leonard Roberts) on First Amendment grounds. The case originally began in 2010 and later appealed to a higher court after the lawsuit was ruled to be “untimely” since the real Ross knew about the entertainer’s stage name since 2006.
After first acknowledging that he did not necessarily agree with the reasoning behind the original decision in the case, California appeals court judge Roger Boren once again sided with Roberts. Judge Boren stated that while the rapper’s stage persona and career were influenced by Ross, they are not the “very sum and substance of Roberts’ work.”
The ruling also affirmed Roberts’ constitutional right to free speech and free expression:
He was not simply an impostor seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits –some of which related to plaintiff. Using the name and certain details of an infamous criminal’s life as basic elements, he created original artistic works.