American singer and songwriter, Tracy Chapman, has won a $450,000 copyright infringement suit against her colleague, Nicki Minaj.
The copyright infringement trial which was over an unauthorized sample of a Tracy Chapman song in a Nicki Minaj track was averted as Minaj agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 to close the case in documents filed on Thursday in United States District Court.
On Thursday, documents became public in California federal court reflecting the fact that Chapman had accepted Minaj’s offer of judgment.
As a result, the two will not proceed to a trial later this year. By accepting Minaj’s offer, Chapman not only scores a win in the case and $450,000, the esteemed singer also avoids being responsible for costs had a jury eventually decided her claims weren’t worth that amount.
Minaj’s song was never officially released, but it had been played on the radio by celebrity disc jockey Funkmaster Flex on New York radio station Hot 97, the Times reported.
Chapman said Minaj had asked permission to use the song but she refused. Minaj argued in her defense that “Sorry,” even without Chapman’s blessing, was protected by the “fair use” doctrine. That is an exception to copyright law that allows artists to borrow copyrighted material under certain conditions, the newspaper reported.
On summary judgment, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Minaj had a fair use right to use the song in the studio to enable musical experimentation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry,” Phillips wrote, setting up a trial to explore the facts surrounding how the song got to Funkmaster Flex.
Minaj opted instead to offer a settlement, which Chapman agreed to.
In a statement on Friday, Chapman said she was pleased with the settlement, adding that it “affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists.”
“As a songwriter and an independent publisher I have been known to be protective of my work,” Chapman stated. “I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample. This lawsuit was a last resort.”