Nicki Minaj Agreed to Pay Tracy Chapman $450,000 in Copyright Lawsuit Settlement
Minaj was accused of sampling one of Chapman's songs without permission.
After a multi-year legal battle, Nicki Minaj and legendary singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman have finally reached a resolution. According to court documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Minaj has agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 "inclusive of all costs and attorney feeds incurred to date," to avoid trail for copyright infringement.
Back in 2018, Chapman sued Minaj over an unreleased track (although it went viral after being played on Hot 97 by DJ Funkmaster Flex) from the "Barbie Tingz" singer's Queen album. The single in question,"Sorry," featured Nas and borrowed many elements from Chapman's 1988 hit "Baby Can I Hold You." Chapman alleged that Minaj sampled her work without permission that the rapper asked for, but was ultimately denied.
Minaj, for her part, argued that the recording of "Sorry" was protected by the "fair use" doctrine — an exception to copyright law that allows creators to borrow copyrighted material in certain circumstances. She also said in a since-deleted tweet that she had "no clue" the song sampled Chapman's work.
In September, Judge Virigina Phillips sided with Minaj when it came to the question of fair use, however, she allowed the case to move forward because of its release to Funkmaster Flex. Chapman claimed Nicki leaked the track, while Minaj and the celebrity DJ both allege a blogger sent it to him. If Nicki was found guilty of leaking the song, she would have been fined a hefty fee.
Despite not getting her day in court, Tracy revealed that she's pleased with the settlement.
"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," Chapman said amid her agreement with Minaj. "As a songwriter and an independent publisher, I have been known to be protective of my work. I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample."
She continued, "This lawsuit was a last resort — pursued in an effort to defend myself and my work and to seek protection for the creative enterprise and expression of songwriters and independent publishers like myself."