Tracy Chapman Awarded $450K In Copyright Case Against Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is set to lose $450,000 after being accused of stealing musical work from 1990s singer Tracy Chapman.
Three years ago Grammy Award-winning folk singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against rapper Nicki Minaj after Nicki and New York radio DJ Funk Master Flex leaked an unreleased song with an uncleared sample of Tracy’s smash hit single “Baby Can I Hold You.”
Last week, Nicki and Tracy settled their dispute – and Nicki had to pay a HUGE sum of money. According to reports Tracy Chapman has agreed to accept a $450k settlement Nicki proposed last December to avoid a court trial and further litigation.
Nicki sampled Tracy’s song after she specifically denied her request and then used Funk Master Flex to release the song over New York airwaves while leaving the song off her album.
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Chapman accused Minaj of using “Baby Can I Hold You” without permission, which she said Minaj had asked for but was denied. Yet Minaj argued that her creation of “Sorry,” even without a license from Chapman, was protected by the doctrine of “fair use” — an exception to copyright law that lets creators borrow copyrighted material under certain conditions.
Their dispute raised thorny questions for musicians and the companies behind them: Can artists be held liable for copyright infringement for works in progress? Do artists need permission even to experiment in the studio?
In September, Judge Virginia A. Phillips, of United States District Court in Los Angeles, sided with Minaj on the question of fair use. In a summary judgment decision, Judge Phillips wrote that “uprooting” the common practice of letting artists experiment privately “would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”
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