Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman has won her copyright lawsuit against American rapper Nicki Minaj after Chapman’s claimed that the rapper took her work without permission.
According to documents filed in California’s federal Central District Court on Thursday, Chapman has accepted Minaj’s offer and will receive $450,000.
Tracy Chapman filed the case back in October 2018. The suit came a couple months after Nicki Minaj released her album, Queen.
While “Sorry,” a collaboration with Nas, wasn’t on the album, Minaj allegedly leaked the song to Funkmaster Flex, a popular radio DJ. The song used both the lyrics and vocal melody from “Baby Can I Hold You,” a song Chapman released in 1998.
Chapman said the rapper had asked permission to use the song but she refused. According to the singer, “Sorry,” even without Chapman’s blessing, was protected by the “fair use” doctrine.
The fair use doctrine is an exception to copyright law that allows artists to borrow copyrighted material under certain conditions.
In his judgment, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Nicki 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.
However, Nicki Minaj decided 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.”
Nicki Minaj’s attorney, Peter W. Ross, said that his client “settled for one reason only. It would have cost us more to go to trial.”