Manitoba

Late Winnipeg rapper's mom sues Google, Facebook for access to son's accounts

The mother of late Winnipeg rapper Jaime Prefontaine, who performed under the name Brooklyn with Winnipeg's Most, is suing Google Inc., Facebook, and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada among others for the rights to her late son's accounts.

Jaime Prefontaine of Winnipeg's Most died in 2015; lawsuit says he had business accounts to produce

Jaime Prefontaine, who performed under the name Brooklyn with the hip-hop group Winnipeg's Most, is shown here in a still from a 2012 CBC interview. His mother is now suing Google, Facebook and a number of other companies in an effort to take control of her son's business accounts. (CBC)

The mother of late Winnipeg hip-hop artist Jaime Prefontaine is suing Google Inc., Facebook, SoundCloud and SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), among others, for the rights to her late son's accounts.

Prefontaine, who performed with Winnipeg's Most under the name Brooklyn, died in September 2015 at the age of 30. His family never publicly released the cause of death.

In a statement of claim, Prefontaine's mother, Loretta Flamand, says a year before her son died, he registered the business name Young Successful Music Group (YSMG) and started to produce music for local Winnipeg artists like Finalie and Illiano.

Flamand, who is the executrix of her son's estate, says he also created a number of accounts "for the purposes of YSMG's business interests and the monetization of its produced music."

The statement of claim, filed in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench July 27, lists a number of accounts, including a YouTube channel, a Facebook page and Gmail account.

"In or around Jaime's death, the accounts' login information, including the passwords, were taken from the premises in which YSMG operated and were since changed, preventing access by the estate to the account," said the claim.

The lawsuit says Flamand doesn't know the identity of the person or people who took the login information. The passwords have since been changed, according to the lawsuit, which has prevented Flamand and her son's estate from accessing the accounts.

WATCH | A 2012 CBC profile of Winnipeg's Most:

CBC News archive: Excerpt from the documentary series 8TH Fire featuring Winnipeg's Most

6 years ago
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CBC News 2012: Except from the documentary series 8TH Fire with Wab Kinew, features hip hop band Winnipeg's Most 4:01

"Further, the naming of the accounts, particularly the YouTube, SoundCloud and Facebook accounts, have been re-named to Young & Successful (Y&S), while still utilizing material and content from YSMG," the court fillings say.

The lawsuit says Prefontaine's estate has tried to access the accounts and obtain any monies received from royalties but hasn't been able to because the passwords were changed. Flamand contacted Google, Facebook, YouTube and the other organizations requesting access but was denied.

Flamand and Prefontaine's estate are now suing those companies to regain control of the accounts. They are also asking for full details on the accounts from 2014, such as money earned, and any funds paid into or out of the accounts.

A statement of defence has not yet been filed in court.

Winnipeg's Most, made up of Prefontaine, Jon-C (Billy Pierson) and Charlie Fettah (Tyler Rogers), made their debut in 2010 and won a number of Aboriginal Peoples' Choice Music Awards that year, including for best new artist. They won six more awards in 2011 and were featured in Maclean's magazine.

Prefontaine had spent time in and out of jail and was wanted by Winnipeg police in the weeks before he died. At the time, police issued a news release saying Prefontaine was aware they were looking for him "and he is actively avoiding them."

In 2012, Winnipeg's Most purchased headstones to honour two women who had been killed.

At the time, Prefontaine told CBC News he had an auntie who had been murdered, and said the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women hit close to home for him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caroline Barghout

Investigative Reporter, CBC Manitoba I-Team

Caroline began her career co-hosting an internet radio talk show in Toronto and then worked at various stations in Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto before landing in Winnipeg in 2007. Since joining CBC Manitoba as a reporter in 2013, she has won an award for her work on crowded jails and her investigation into Tina Fontaine's death led to changes in the child welfare system. Email: caroline.barghout@cbc.ca

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