Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, claimed that the digital release of his early work violated a 15-year-old contract that guided how such material would be presented to the public.
The lawsuit stems from his days at "gangsta" rap label Death Row Records, which he co-founded. The label later suffered financial problems and has emerged under new corporate ownership as WIDEawake Death Row Records.
In 1996, he left Death Row to set up a new shop at Interscope Records, and bought his freedom by disclaiming his ownership interest in both Death Row and the sound recordings he had produced there.
But Dre also didn't want his legacy tarnished, so in a 1996 deal, he sought some measure of security in how Death Row presented his recordings by making the label agree not to distribute any of his songs except "in the manners heretofore distributed."
In a decision on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder finds that the agreement not to distribute Dre's songs except "in the manners heretofore distributed" unambiguously prohibited Death Row from reissuing "The Chronic" in a new form, including as digital downloads.
Read More: Reuters