It's a big day for Rick Ross, who is finished with his three-year legal battle with drug kingpin "Freeway" Rick Ross. "Freeway" Ross sued the rapper (born William Leonard Roberts) in 2010 for appropriating his name and likeness. Now, an appeals court has dismissed the trial on First Amendment grounds, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Thus, Rick Ross is still Rick Ross.
"We recognize that Roberts' work—his music and persona as a rap musician—relies to some extent on plaintiff's name and persona," writes Judge [Roger] Boren. "Roberts chose to use the name 'Rick Ross.' He raps about trafficking in cocaine and brags about his wealth. These were 'raw materials' from which Roberts' music career was synthesized. But these are not the 'very sum and substance' of Roberts' work."
"Roberts created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin turned rapper," says the ruling. "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."