Nicki Minaj to pay Tracy Chapman $450k in ‘Sorry’ copyright infringement lawsuit

The ‘Fast Car’ singer first filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in 2018, claiming that Minaj's leaked track used lyrics and vocal melody from ‘Baby Can I Hold You’

 

Rachel Brodsky
Los Angeles
Friday 08 January 2021 21:55
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<p>Nicki Minaj to pay Tracy Chapman $450k in 'Sorry' copyright infringement lawsuit</p>

Nicki Minaj to pay Tracy Chapman $450k in 'Sorry' copyright infringement lawsuit

A judgement has been determined between Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman's 2018 copyright dispute, where Minaj sampled Chapman's 1988 song “Baby Can I Hold You” in her leaked track “Sorry”. 

According to documents filed in a California federal court on Thursday (7 January), Chapman's team has accepted a sum of $450,000 offer of judgement that Minaj and her team made in December. The sum includes all costs and lawyer fees related to the case.

A representative for Chapman sent a statement from the “Fast Car” singer:

“I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists. I was asked in this situation numerous times for permission to use my song; in each instance, politely and in a timely manner, I unequivocally said no. Apparently Ms Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions. As a songwriter and an independent publisher, I have been known to be protective of my work. I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample. This lawsuit was a last resort – pursued in an effort to defend myself and my work and to seek protection for the creative enterprise and expression of songwriters and independent publishers like myself.” 

In summer of 2018, radio DJ Funkmaster Flex leaked “Sorry” online. Though it was later removed from his website, Chapman sued for copyright infringement, claiming that the unreleased Queen track had lifted her lyrics.

In court documents filed in February 2019, the “Pink Friday” rapper denied that “Sorry” infringed upon “Baby Can I Hold You”. Minaj also tweeted in July 2018 that she had not been granted sample access from Chapman. “Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me,” she tweeted

More recently, this past September, Judge Virginia A Phillips said that Minaj did not commit copyright infringement during the writing and recording of “Sorry”. 

According to court papers, Minaj's team did reach out to Chapman to sample the track. A clearance specialist was even said to have been aware that Chapman was on the “do not sample list”, an unwritten list of artists who are known for not allowing samples of their works. Chapman did not accept the request at the time. 

John Gatti, a lawyer for Chapman, added to the official statement, “I respect Tracy’s principles and appreciate her successful efforts to protect artists’ rights. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and for the statement this makes on behalf of Tracy and indeed, all artists’ rights.”

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