In a turn of events from September’s ruling in favor of Nicki Minaj, a judgement has been made in which Minaj will be paying $450,000 to Tracy Chapman in their copyright dispute. The dispute first began in 2018, when Minaj’s song “Sorry,” which used a sample from Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” had been leaked online, then subsequently shared throughout social media.
“We settled for one reason only,” An attorney for Minaj had said in a statement to Pitchfork. “It would have cost us more to go to trial.”
In September, US District Judge Virginia A. Phillips had ruled in Minaj’s favor, saying that the use of the sample fell into “fair use.” Due to the fact that the song had never officially been released, but was instead share via an internet leak, the ruling worked to make sure a precedent requiring artists to seek permission for sampling songs during demos would not be set. However, despite the song having never officially been released, Minaj’s alleged use of Chapman’s lyrics allowed parts of the lawsuit to lean towards Chapman’s favor.
“I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that arises’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists,” Chapman had said in a statement, according to Pitchfork. “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 by 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. ”
Minaj’s settlement covered all court and attorney fees related to the case. Chapman sued after Funkmaster Flex had leaked the track online, with Chapman alleging that “Sorry” directly lifted her original lyrics in “Baby Can I Hold You.” Minaj had tweeted to ask for permission to use one of Chapman’s songs as a sample, however Chapman had denied the request.