Entertainment

Judge Rules in Favor of Nicki Minaj in Tracy Chapman Copyright Dispute


A judge handed a significant win to Nicki Minaj on Wednesday, finding that she did not commit copyright infringement when she created a song based on Tracy Chapman ’s “Baby Can I Hold You.”


The ruling protects the industry practice of developing a new song based on existing material, and then seeking a license from the original artist prior to release.


U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that Minaj’s experimentation with Chapman’s song constitutes “fair use” and is not copyright infringement.


At the time, she believed it was a remake of a song created by Shelly Thunder, and was surprised to discover later that most of the lyrics and some of the melody came from Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” which was released on her debut album in 1988.


“With that category of music, a recording artist typically goes into the studio and experiments with dozens of different ‘beats’ or snippets of melodies, before hitting upon a pleasing combination.”


A finding in Chapman’s favor, they argued, “would impose a financial and administrative burden so early in the creative process that all but the most well-funded creators would be forced to abandon their visions at the outset.”






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