nicki minaj

Nicki Minaj wins crucial copyright infringement case

Andile Sicetsha - 17.09.2020

Nicki Minaj was found not guilty in a landmark case that held dire implications for music creators.

A copyright dispute brought against Nicki Minaj by Tracy Chapman has held dire implications for the way musicians, at least in the United States (US), make music.

Nicki Minaj copyright case: Did she leak the song?

You will remember that in 2017, the New York rapstress was hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly authorising the sneak release of a song titled Sorry that borrowed a lot from Chapman’s 1988 Baby Can I Hold You.

Due to Chapman’s repeated refusal to grant Minaj licence to use the song, Sorry was never featured on her recent album Queen.

However, the song leaked and mysteriously found its way to popular radio host DJ Funk Flex and The Breakfast Club.

Chapman’s legal representatives have, in all these years, laid the blame on Minaj, accusing the rapstress of granting radio stations to play the song without her permission.

Minaj, of course, has maintained her innocence, claiming that she had nothing to do with the leak. She also argued that during the creation of the song, she believed that the rightsholder to the sample she drew inspiration from was Shelly Thunder.

Court rules in rapstress’ favour

After more than two years of contention, US district judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled in Minaj’s favour. The court determined that the rapstress’ experimentation constituted fair use.

“Artists usually experiment with works before seeking licenses from rights holders and rights holders typically ask to see a proposed work before approving a license. A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry,” the judge ruled.

Therefore, with regards to copyright infringement, Minaj was found not guilty. The only matter that now rests with a jury is whether the rapstress was involved in the song leaking to radio stations.

Minaj vehemently maintains that she and her representatives played no part in the song’s leak.

No further details were released on when the jury is expected to deliver a verdict on this part of the lawsuit.