“A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry,” the judge overseeing the case between Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman, said.
In a report from Billboard, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips decided that Minaj’s creation of “Sorry,” which samples Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” was fair use of copyright.
“Chapman has requested samples of proposed works before approving licensing requests herself because she wanted ‘to see how [her work] will be used’ before approving the license, yet Chapman argues against the very practice she maintains,” Phillips said in the ruling. “A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry. This is contrary to Copyright Law’s primary goal of promoting the arts for the public good.”
Elsewhere he also said: “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. A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”
However, the case isn’t fully over. Now, a jury has to decide if Minaj allegedly giving Funkmaster Flex the track constitutes as copyright infringement. Both Minaj, as well as Flex, have denied that it was her who gave “Sorry” to the New York DJ.
Chapman’s lawsuit stems from the release of Minaj’s “Sorry” in 2018. The song was supposed to appear on her fourth studio album Queen, but she was unable to get it cleared. After recording a new version with Nas (who is featured on the song), Minaj elected to keep the song off the album altogether after requests to Chapman, both privately and publicly, were at first rejected, and then unanswered.
On the day following Queen‘s release, Flex played “Sorry,” which he allegedly received from Minaj’s team. Soon after, Chapman formally sued Minaj for copyright infringement, with the singer’s attorney John Gatti saying, “[Minaj] violated Ms. Chapman’s copyright by creating an illegal derivative work and distributing that work.”