Nicki Minaj To Pay $450,000 to Tracy Chapman In Copyright Infringement Case

Nicki Minaj To Pay $450,000 to Tracy Chapman In Copyright Infringement Case

Trinidadian-American female rapper Nicki Minaj, renowned for her hits ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Anaconda’, will be set to pay Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman $450,000 to settle a two-year long copyright infringement case. 

In October 2018, Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, was taken to court by Chapman as she was accused of sampling Chapman’s 1988 hit song ‘Baby, Can I Hold You Tonight’ without permission. Chapman claimed that the evidence of use was found in Minaj’s song ‘Sorry’. The track remains unreleased until today, but was played on a radio station by DJ Funkmaster Flex. Subsequently, the song went viral online. 

Pitchfork reported a representative of Minaj maintains that her party ‘…settled for one reason only. It would have cost us more to go to trial.’ (source)

Minaj and her team have previously approached Chapman for permission to sample the song. However, the ‘Fast Car’ singer refused Minaj’s request repeatedly. In 2018, Minaj tweeted: ‘Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me. omg for the love of #Queen.’ Minaj has since deleted the tweet. 

It is reported that Chapman is one of the many artists listed on an unofficial ‘do not sample’ list. Furthermore, it is claimed that Minaj was aware of Chapman’s inclusion in the list. 

US District Judge Virginia A Phillips previously stated that Minaj’s sampling of Chapman’s hit song was done in ‘fair use’ and there was ‘no evidence’ that Minaj profited off Chapman from the act. A trial to investigate how ‘Sorry’ was found to be leaked and distributed was set to take place, but has been put to rest since Chapman accepted Minaj’s settlement offer. (source

Chapman and her reps state: ‘I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists.’

‘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 my clear and express intentions.’ (source

Minaj and her reps are yet to comment on the verdict. 

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