Nicki Minaj Forced to Pay Tracy Chapman $450,000 in Copyright Lawsuit

Getty Nicki Minaj on the red carpet.

On January 8, The New York Times reported that Nicki Minaj would be forced to pay singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman $450,000 over a copyright dispute.

Documents made public and obtained by the New York Times revealed that both parties agreed to a “judgment of copyright infringement against Minaj, and a payment of $450,000 to Chapman.”

The song in question for infringement claims was Minaj’s leaked single, “Sorry.”

Here’s what you need to know:


Minaj Was Sued by the Songwriter in 2018

The Starships singer was first sued by Chapman in 2018 over the song “Sorry”, which Chapman said was “borrowed heavily” from the song, “Baby Can I Hold You”, released in 1988.

According to the New York Times, Minaj said that she was protected by the “doctrine of ‘fair use’- an exception to copyright law that lets creators borrow copyrighted material under certain conditions.”

While a judge initially sided with Minaj, stating that not allowing artists to experiment privately with music would “limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry,” the case ended up going to trial on the basis that the song “Sorry” was played on the radio by a DJ named Funkmaster Flex.

Funkmaster Flex stated that he received the song from a blogger, and Minaj insisted she did not leak him the track. The New York Times acknowledged, “If Minaj had leaked the song herself, or authorized its release through intermediaries, she may have been liable for significant penalties.”

Minaj’s lawyers reportedly made the $450,000 offer in mid-December. It was accepted on December 30.

The disagreement will not proceed to trial.


‘I Am Glad To Have This Matter Resolved’

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Chapman as saying of the resolution, “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.”

She added, “This lawsuit was a last report — 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.”

What should you know about Chapman?

The singer-songwriter, who is best known for songs like ‘Fast Car’, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and received an academic scholarship before attending Tufts University in Massachusetts, according to Hollywood Life.

The 56-year-old earned six Grammy nominations for her self-titled album– she took home the award for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Contemporary Folk Album.

That being said, the singer has maintained a private life, largely out of the spotlight. In 2002, Hollywood Life reported Chapman as saying via the About Tracy Chapman website, “I have a public life that’s my work life, and I have my personal life. In some ways, the decision to keep the two things separate relates to the work I do. I don’t think I would have anything interesting to write about if I didn’t give myself time to have a life, to hang out with my friends or read a book or travel someplace I’ve always wanted to see. It can be a very odd or unreal lifestyle being a musician, going from one hotel room to the next.”

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