Tracy Chapman Awarded $450,000 in Nicki Minaj Copyright Dispute


For months, the leisure trade’s authorized calendar had an intriguing merchandise on the horizon: a copyright trial pitting Tracy Chapman, the revered and reclusive singer-songwriter, in opposition to the firebrand rapper Nicki Minaj.

However that trial is to not be. Late final month, the events agreed to a judgment of copyright infringement in opposition to Minaj, and a cost of $450,000 to Chapman, in response to paperwork made public on Thursday in federal court docket in California, the place the case was being adjudicated.

Chapman sued Minaj for copyright infringement in late 2018 over a music known as “Sorry,” which borrowed closely from Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” launched in 1988. The side of the case that drew the eye of authorized students and leisure litigators was that Minaj’s music, which she recorded with the rapper Nas, was by no means formally launched, though it had been performed on the radio by Funkmaster Flex, a star D.J. on the New York radio station Sizzling 97.

Chapman accused Minaj of utilizing “Child Can I Maintain You” with out permission, which she stated Minaj had requested for however was denied. But Minaj argued that her creation of “Sorry,” even with no license from Chapman, was protected by the doctrine of “truthful use” — an exception to copyright legislation that lets creators borrow copyrighted materials beneath sure situations.

Their dispute raised thorny questions for musicians and the businesses behind them: Can artists be held responsible for copyright infringement for works in progress? Do artists want permission even to experiment within the studio?

In September, Decide Virginia A. Phillips, of United States District Court docket in Los Angeles, sided with Minaj on the query of truthful use. In a abstract judgment resolution, Decide Phillips wrote that “uprooting” the frequent apply of letting artists experiment privately “would restrict creativity and stifle innovation inside the music trade.”

However the decide allowed the case to go to trial over the query of how the music made its method to Funkmaster Flex. Chapman’s aspect alleged that Minaj had leaked it, and pointed to substantial correspondence between the 2. Minaj stated she didn’t ship the observe, and Funkmaster Flex stated that he had gotten it “from one in all his bloggers,” in response to the decide’s ruling.

If Minaj had leaked the music herself, or licensed its launch by means of intermediaries, she could have been responsible for vital penalties. Court docket papers present that Minaj’s legal professionals made their supply of $450,000, “inclusive of all prices and lawyer charges incurred to this point,” on Dec. 17, and that Chapman’s workforce accepted it on Dec. 30.

In a press release on Friday, Chapman stated she was happy with the result, “which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by legislation and must be revered by different artists.”

“As a songwriter and an impartial writer I’ve been recognized to be protecting of my work,” Chapman added. “I’ve by no means licensed the usage of my songs for samples or requested a pattern. This lawsuit was a final resort.”

When requested for remark concerning the conclusion of the case, a lawyer for Minaj, Peter W. Ross, stated merely: “We settled for one purpose solely. It could have value us extra to go to trial.”



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