Top 10 The Most Battles in Court Over Samples
When a musician uses an existing, easily-recognized musical piece in their own composition, it is called sampling. The technique has been used since the 1970s, and according to Guinness, the first song to sample another was “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” from 1971. The hip-hop and rap scenes of the early 1990s saw this as a massive hit.
Two of that era’s most popular songs sampled from other songs: “Under Pressure” by Queen/David Bowie and “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” also samples from “Superfreak” by Rick James. The lack of authorization for both actions led to complications, as we will see in a while. It appears like practically everyone in the music industry has been the target of a sampling lawsuit at some point.
10 Tracy Chapman Filed a Lawsuit Against Nicki Minaj Because the Rapper Sampled a Song Despite Her Warnings Not To
“Sorry,” a single by Nicki Minaj released in 2018, sampled the melody and lyrics of “Baby Can I Hold You” by Tracy Chapman. Since this occurred in 2018, a long time after numerous other musicians had been the targets of significant copyright claims,….. With this one, Minaj and her crew were spot on.
In order to obtain permission to use her song, Minaj’s representatives contacted Chapman. She was adamant against it. The Minaj camp sent out yet another plea. Then a few more. Chapman was adamant that her music not be exploited in such a way, and she refused to yield. As a result, Nicki Minaj acted in a manner typical of her profession. She made use of it nevertheless.
Although she did not have permission, she recorded the song nonetheless. However, she excluded it off her 2018 album. The song ended up on the air after being “accidentally” leaked to a DJ. Imagine this: you’re careening along with your copyright infringement music, and then it lands squarely on Funkmaster Flex’s social media and radio show.
Minaj proposed a settlement of $450,000 to Chapman after two years of the lawsuit, which Chapman accepted.
9 The First-Ever Major Sampling Lawsuit Was Lost by Biz Markie
If you’re familiar with Biz Markie’s music, you know that he was a huge star in the hip-hop industry. In that case, when you get a chance, you might want to watch a video or two. He had an endearingly strange and lovable personality. However, the potential demise of sampling revolved around Biz Markie.
Sampling was mostly unnoticed by the legal system until a 1991 lawsuit was filed against Markie. However, Markie faced legal action for using the song “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, which was released in 1972, in his own song “Alone Again.”
Despite Markie’s requests, O’Sullivan denied her usage of the sample. In the end, it was his use of it and the song’s publication that got him in trouble with the law. O’Sullivan took the matter to court after he refused to settle, following the precedent set by all prior cases.
Markie was scolded by the judge. After Markie paid O’Sullivan $250,000, the studio blocked the publication of the song and album and took the case to criminal court, alleging that Markie had stolen the money. Studios, who would have to pay for artists’ claims in the future, took the brunt of the devastating blow.
Although Markie was never charged with a crime, many tracks that were already recorded were either not released or taken off the market because the rights to use the samples could not be obtained. The original songwriters should get a share of the earnings going forward, and this was the one case that proved it. It transformed the way sampling functioned forever.
8 U Can’t Touch This Sample of Superfreak by Rick James Was Never Requested by MC Hammer
“U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer was a groundbreaking hit in the ’90s and a gateway song for many suburbanites into rap, to return to an example from the introduction. The infectious melody was really from Rick James’ 1981 smash hit Super Freak, but many children didn’t realize that; they just adored the upbeat sound.
MC Hammer shamelessly sampled the whole musical accompaniment of his release—the song’s baseline—without authorization. Upon hearing it, James promptly filed a lawsuit, which was eventually settled for a songwriting credit and, naturally, money. This led to James’s 1991 Grammy victory for “U Can’t Touch This,” his lone career win.
You can bet that James has made a tidy sum from the royalties, as he was also entitled to them as a co-writer of the song.
7 Under Pressure, Vanilla Ice Reached a Settlement with David Bowie and Queen
One of our other introduction examples is both more well-known and more involved. Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, debuted his breakout single “Ice Ice Baby” in 1990. The song’s bass line sampled the well-known bass riff from “Under Pressure,” a collaboration between David Bowie and Queen. Notoriously and shamefully, Van Winkle attempted to disprove this on video by showing how the two bass lines were different in a way that revealed they were identical.
Bowie and Queen’s Brian May sued Ice despite his claims that the whole thing was a joke. He reportedly gave them $4 million after reaching a settlement with them, according to Van Winkle. However, that’s not where the narrative ends.
Van Winkle later said that he had purchased the rights to “Under Pressure” rather than paying royalties to Bowie’s estate and Queen because it was more cost-effective. Even though it appears like that should be the last word, Brian May said afterwards that it’s not true and that they can still share the music thanks to a “arrangement” they made.
6 The Count Chuck Berry Filed a lawsuit against the Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA
Brian Wilson learnt the hard way in writing “Surfin’ USA” that even the best-laid plans can backfire. Wilson was a big fan of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” therefore it’s possible that the song was written in his honor. He confessed to stealing Berry’s songwriting and reworking it into his own, but he didn’t say it was wrong.
Even though Chuck Berry supposedly like the song, he didn’t take well to the blatant plagiarism when he heard it. The Beach Boys’ manager—who happened to be Brian Wilson’s father—handed over the song’s rights when his label reached out to them.
Tragically, the Beach Boys were unaware that they were not receiving any royalties on the song, and the fact that they were not receiving any royalties was even worse. It wasn’t until 25 years later that they discovered Chuck Berry was actually credited as the song’s writer and not them.
5 Mr. Rogers Filed a Lawsuit Against Ice Cube for Using His Theme Song
The prospect of being sued by Mr. Rogers must have been terrifying. It happened to Ice Cube, so if you’re having trouble imagining, you might want to ask him.
This particular song was “A Gangsta’s Fairytale,” which was published in 1990 on Cube’s debut solo album. An early version of the song’s introduction sampled the Mr. Rogers TV theme. To quote Cube, “It’s a fantastic day in the neighborhood and all that.” It seems that Rogers was originally paid one nickel each record, but that was wiped out during the editing process.
Previous comments by Cube on the lawsuit included the fact that they had to pay even though they had been denied permission to use his name.
4 Twenty Years Later, The Knack Sued Run DMC for Sampling My Sharona Riff
After launching their careers in 1983, Run-DMC has become hip-hop royalty, having laid the groundwork for countless artists to come. Hits like “It’s Tricky” from 1987’s third studio album are among their many. In 1979, the Knack produced their biggest hit, “My Sharona,” which was sampled in the song.
The Knack didn’t comment on the sample for nearly 20 years after its debut in 1987.They then chose to sue Run-DMC in 2006 for copyright infringement, stating that they were unaware of the song until 2005 and that no one had alerted them to it. They went on to sue everyone who distributed the song, including iTunes, Napster, and anyone else. We reached a settlement in 2009.
3 Diddy Must Make Up With Sting For His Massive I’ll Be Watching You Sample
Following Notorious B.I.G.’s passing in 1997, Diddy dropped a tribute single titled “I’ll be Missing You.” That song clearly samples the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” a song that Sting owns the rights to. Diddy, who was arguably the most well-known producer in the world at the time, failed to consider the need of obtaining permission beforehand.
As Sting went on to say in an interview, Elton John phoned him after he heard the song for the first time and informed him he was about to become a millionaire. According to Sting, he was receiving $2,000 daily from Diddy for the song. Later on, Diddy stated that it was $5,000 daily. He continued by saying it was all in jest. Whatever the specifics may be, it’s safe to assume that the song was very lucrative for Sting.
2 For the same song, the Hollies sued Radiohead, who subsequently sued Lana Del Rey.
When the band The Hollies sued Radiohead, accusing them of ripping off parts of their song “Creep” without permission, it was clear that no band is immune to sampling. When Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood heard how similar “Creep” was to “The Air That I Breathe,” they approached Radiohead in the 90s to discuss the similarities. A settlement was struck, giving both men a writing credit on “Creep” and a part of the royalties. It seemed like the situation was settled.
In 2018, Radiohead considered suing Lana Del Rey over her song “Get Free,” which they said was a rip-off of their song “Creep.” Even though Del Rey claimed on social media that she didn’t intentionally steal anything, the band insisted on having 100% of the publication rights, meaning that they would receive all of the profits from the song and she would receive nothing. The band has already admitted to copying this song from another group, albeit they were under no obligation to do so publicly.
The case was resolved in the end, although it is still not clear who is credited as the songwriter of Del Rey’s song: Radiohead, the Hollies, or just her.
1 Too Much Joy Heard From Bozo the Clown About Her Sampling Him
Too Much Joy accomplished something no sampling lawsuit has ever attempted to match. It was Bozo the Clown, not any other musician or group, that sued them for copyright infringement.
Anyone familiar with the name Bozo knows that he was a TV clown. Since his creation in 1946, several actors have portrayed him, notably Willard Scott, a weatherman for NBC. Thus, in terms of the makeup, he is less of a real person and more of a character.
Way Too Much Joy used a snippet of Bozo’s lyrics—”And then I found something in one of my pockets”—instead of a full song. Its size was comparable to that of your shoe, although its form resembled a rocket. What Bozo meant by that is anyone’s guess, but the band was making fun of him for its comedy value, and Bozo was not amused.
Larry Harmon, who is the rightful owner of Bozo, issued a cease and desist order to the band. They were threatened with legal action unless they ceased pressing the album. After agreeing to release no more music from the CD, the band later learned that Bozo had received $200 from the studio https://huuhao.com.