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Here’s your lawsuit: denied use right, rapper samples song, anyway

What part of “no” don’t you understand?

That classic query aimed at individuals who don’t seem to be listening and push behaviors without necessary third-party permission can almost be heard coming out of Tracy Chapman’s mouth in tandem with a lawsuit she just filed.

That litigation is now before a California federal court and directed squarely at the popular rapper Nicki Minaj. Multiple Grammy winner Chapman asserts That Minaj has flatly ripped her off by sampling her music without permission. The folk singer’s legal filing is grounded in a copyright infringement claim that reportedly has strong merit.

Indeed, the key facts in the matter even include an express admission from Minaj that Chapman’s hit song “Baby Can I Hold You” influenced the recent Minaj song “Sorry.” A Minaj-authored reference on social media notes that Sorry “sampled the legend #Tracy Chapman.”

Chapman states that she has steadfastly denied granting Minaj any license to sample from her 1988 song, despite repeated efforts from the rapper and her musical team to obtain permission.

What apparently galls Chapman in a material way is that, notwithstanding her repeat denials, her work was clearly incorporated into Sorry, anyway. That song has subsequently been played on the radio, downloaded by third parties and published on various musical platforms.

A recent Forbes article discussing the litigation points to the “strong evidence” indicating misappropriation. Its writer stresses that the confirmation of Chapman’s offered proofs would render it “difficult to imagine a stronger example of blatant disregard for copyright infringement laws.”

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