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RZA Sues Back! In JVC Kenwood Copyright Suit Over "Dark Fantasy"

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

RZA is fighting back against accusations that he improperly sourced sample material for "Dark Fantasy" - a track he produced for Kanye West's 2010 LP My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Def Jam has reportedly denied The Abbott $50,000.00 of his royalties as punishment for the infraction. In a move to recover earnings and protect his reputation, RZA has filed a counter-suit against JVC Kenwood Holdings and their musical rights acquisition subsidiary Teichiku Entertainment. The company claims that RZA wrongfully used a sample from "Gincho Watadori" performed by Meiko Kaji to complete production on the Kanye West song. Protecting his legal neck, representatives for RZA have responded, suggesting that it would have been impossible for him to have pilfered the piano line in question without sampling the other elements of the song. An alibi strengthened by the argument that if any parties involved in the production had been interested in borrowing such a minuscule part of the Meiko Kaji track, they could have had an in-studio musician play it out on the piano - ultimately bypassing the issue of sample clearance altogether. As RZA's lawyer Howard King told Hollywood Reporter:

"RZA did not use Teichiku’s piano run, and it sounds different from the one in 'Dark Fantasy,'. In fact, it would have been technologically impossible to sample the piano run without the rest of the music in 'Gincyo Watadori,' and the piano run in 'Gincyo' is so simple that the least talented person in the studio could have replayed it had anyone wished to do so."

Speaking on a defensive strategy that may have implications for sample/copyright law as profound as the recent Mac Miller/Lord Finesse settlement over a mixtape beat, King went on to explain that:

"We see dozens of baseless copyright-infringement claims against our clients every year. Rather than engaging in costly and fruitless dialogue trying to convince claimants and their contingency lawyers that our clients do not succumb to extortion and settle ridiculous claims, we have decided to commence declaratory relief actions to squash some of these claims and, perhaps, recover our costs of defending same. The RZA complaint is the second one of these we have filed this month, with more to come."

Spotted at PF