A judge has ruled in favour of Nicki Minaj over a copyright infringement claim by Tracy Chapman.
The ‘Anaconda’ crooner was found not guilty of copyright infringement in the use of Tracy Chapman’s song, “Baby, Can I Hold You” which she sampled for her 2017 song, “Sorry” with Nas.
Most of the lyrics and some of the melody from ‘Sorry’ was from Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” which was released on her debut album in 1988.
Nicki’s reps reportedly tried to do the right thing by reaching out to Chapman for permission to use the song, but Chapman repeatedly refused. According to Chapman’s lawsuit against Nicki, she has a blanket policy against granting such permission.
Nicki Minaj went on to drop the song from her 2018 “Queen” album after failing to secure Chapman’s permission.
However, DJ Flex got a copy of the unreleased track and played it on his show to which Chapman accused Nicki of providing DJ Flex with the song. A claim DJ Flex and Nicki’s reps denied. The track later became widely available online.
Nicki’s attorneys argued that if the judge did find in favour of Tracy Chapman, it “would impose a financial and administrative burden so early in the creative process that all but the most well-funded creators would be forced to abandon their visions at the outset.”
The judge agreed, finding that on balance Nicki was protected by the “fair use” doctrine and the dispute regarding infringement on Tracy Chapman’s song with DJ Flex being sent “Sorry,” would have to go to a jury.