Kanye West sued by Donna Summer estate over ‘I Feel Love’ sample

Her estate allege Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign were not authorised to use her song on ‘Vultures 1’ song ‘Good (Don’t Die)’

Jabed Ahmed
Wednesday 28 February 2024 12:54 GMT
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The estate of late singer Donna Summer has begun legal action against rappers Kanye West (Ye) and Ty Dolla $ign for allegedly using her song “I Feel Love” on their album Vultures 1 without permission.

The lawsuit has been brought forward by Bruce Sudano, Summer’s widower and executor of her estate. The musician, who was widely known as the “Queen of Disco” died in 2012, aged 63. 

The complaint states West and Ty Dolla $ign, real name Tyrone Griffin, were not authorised to use her song in the track “Good (Don’t Die)”, which has been removed from streaming services following an earlier complaint by the estate.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, also alleges when representatives of Ye asked for permission to use the song they were rejected because the Summer estate "wanted no association with West's controversial history." They say they rejected the request on 3 February.

The estate claims the album instead “shamelessly” includes re-recorded parts of the song that were “instantly recognisable.” 

“In the face of this rejection, defendants arrogantly and unilaterally decided they would simply steal ‘I Feel Love’ and use it without permission.”

“The Summer Estate not only considered the immense commercial value of the ‘I Feel Love’ composition, but also the potential degradation to Summer’s legacy,” the complaint said.

“West is known as a controversial public figure whose conduct has led numerous brands and business partners to disassociate from him.”

Kanye West (Ye)
Kanye West (Ye) (Getty Images)

“I Feel Love,” co-written by Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, is a track from Summer’s 1977 album “I Remember Yesterday” that is considered one of the first instances of electronic dance music.  

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“Good (Don’t Die)” was released on 10 February on Ye and Ty Dolla $ign’s collaborative album, Vultures 1. The lawsuit names as defendants both artists and Ye’s record label Yeezy. 

The estate first publicly alleged the copyright violation in an Instagram post on the official Summer account on the day of the album’s release. 

Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Vultures 1’ album cover
Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Vultures 1’ album cover (YZY)

The estate is requesting maximum damages, equating to 150,000 dollars (£118,000) “for each act of infringement”.

It seeks a judge’s injunction stopping any further circulation of the song, and money damages will be determined at trial. 

The song does not currently appear on the version of the album available on Spotify and other streaming services. 

Ye, who legally changed his name from Kanye West in 2021, sparked outrage in 2022 with a series of antisemitic social media posts. The rapper apologised for his remarks in December 2023.

The Independent has approached Ye and Griffin’s representatives for comment.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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