Tracy Chapman Wins $450K in Copyright Suit Against Nicki Minaj
After a more than two-year-long battle over the song “Sorry” which was slated to be on her Queen LP, rap icon Nicki Minaj has offered up $450,000 to acoustic singer Tracy Chapman to settle a judgment for the track and Chapman accepted.
Chapman initially sued Minaj in 2018 over the recording, which uses parts of her 1988 song “Baby Can I Hold You,” but a judge ruled that Minaj didn’t violate any copyright infringement laws by recording the record, but Minaj’s team was obviously unwilling to take the issue of whether “Sorry”’s song leak did violate Chapman’s rights all the way to trial.
“It would have cost us more to go to trial,” said Minaj of her ultimate decision to not take the case to trial. Minaj admittedly didn’t know she was using Chapman’s song, as she thought she was borrowing from Shelly Thunder’s reggae hit “Sorry”, which uses elements of Chapman’s song as well.
Chapman contends that all she wanted out of the end result was for the rapper to just leave her music alone. “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. I was asked in this situation numerous times for permission to use my song; in each instance, politely and in a timely manner, I unequivocally said no. Apparently Ms. Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions. 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. 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,” she said.