Tracy Chapman does not let other artists sample her work. Nicki Minaj apparently did not get the message and has agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 for copyright infringement.
Minaj wanted to use a sample of Chapman’s 1988 hit, “Baby Can I Hold You,” in her song, “Sorry,” a collaboration with Nas. Minaj and her representatives reached out to Chapman for permission to use the sample, but their request was rejected.
Chapman sued Minaj in October 2018 and claimed that Minaj used both the lyrics and vocal melody from Chapman’s song. According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court in California’s Central District on Jan. 7, 2021, Minaj offered to pay Chapman $450,000 to settle the suit, and Chapman accepted the offer. The two have avoided a court trail as a result.
Chapman said in a statement. “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.”
Chapman added, “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.”
“Sorry” was not included on Minaj’s album, Queen, which was released on Aug. 10, 2018, but it was leaked onto Hot 97 radio in New York via DJ Funkmaster Flex and online.
When asked for comment, a lawyer for Minaj, Peter W. Ross, said simply: “We settled for one reason only. It would have cost us more to go to trial.”
Sources: theguardian.com, npr.com. nytimes.com