Sampling Tracy Chapman? That would be a no!

I seem to recall covering this one quite a few months ago now. I especially remember laughing at Minaj’s utterly pathetic defence that the sampling counted as “fair use” and that clearance was somehow not actually required.

The case has been settled out of court. Chapman will receive $450k and legal costs – given this matter has been running on for some 2 years, those are likely to be substantial. I’m not remotely surprised. The major labels know full well that Tracy Chapman is on an unofficial list of artists that you don’t sample – mostly because her own policy is blanket refusal.

A few years ago, my wife paid a visit to the BBC’s headquarters in London. Shortly before her appearance on the TV, she was asked to clarify that she owned the copyright on all the photos she had submitted the previous day. A posh-voiced Beeb employee simply stated “Copyright infringement is expensive”.


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