A judge on Wednesday ruled in favour of Nicki Minaj in the ongoing Tracy Chapman’s copyright infringement lawsuit.
According to Variety, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that Minaj’s song “Sorry” falls under the “fair use” and not copyright infringement as Chapman claimed.
“Artists usually experiment with works before seeking licenses from rights holders and rights holders typically ask to see a proposed work before approving a license,” the judge wrote. “A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”
Minaj created the song “Sorry,” which borrows most of the lyrics and some of the melody from “Baby Can I Hold You,” with the intention of putting the track on her 2018 album “Queen”. Her request to sample the song was repeatedly turned down by Chapman, who claimed to have a blanket policy against granting permission.
However, a copy of the unreleased track made its way to DJ Flex, a New York radio DJ who played it on the air.
Although Nicki Minaj confirmed sending Flex an Instagram message about the song, she denies actually sending it. “I had a change of heart,” she later testified. “I never sent the recording.”
Her attorneys argue that artists should be given the freedom to utilize a variety of beats, melodies, etc. before determining how the final product will sound.
In a motion, Minaj’s attorneys warned that Chapman’s suit “would send a shiver down the spine of those concerned with the entertainment industry.”
Nicki’s lawyers said: “Such free-flowing creativity is important to all recording artists, but particularly in hip hop. With that category of music, a recording artist typically goes into the studio and experiments with dozens of different ‘beats’ or snippets of melodies, before hitting upon a pleasing combination.”