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Nicki Minaj Sued by Tracy Chapman for Copyright Infringement

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on October 26, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Nicki Minaj is facing an interesting copyright infringement lawsuit, filed by Tracy Chapman. Minaj recorded a song, "Sorry," for her new album entitled Queen. Minaj never released "Sorry," even though Queen launched in August 2018. However, the song did find its way into the public's ear, and now Chapman claims that the song lifted too many lyrics and vocal melodies from her 1998 single, "Baby Can I Hold You," without her permission, and she wants to fight about it. Talkin' Bout a Revolution!

Sorry, Not Sorry

Minaj recorded "Sorry," and planned to put it on Queen, but apparently her lawyers must have thought it was too similar to "Baby Can I Hold You." Minaj's people sent multiple requests to Chapman, as far back as June, asking if they could sample her song, which means use parts of it with her permission. Chapman denied all requests. Minaj wanted to get Queen out, and was tired of all the back and forth, so she decided to release the album without the track. Which seems very noble.

However, in August 2018, she did give a copy of the track to a popular New York disc jockey at DJ Hot 97, a hip-hop station. who played the song on the radio, and also posted it to his social media accounts. Which seems very Uber -- asking for forgiveness from Chapman instead of permission. Maybe Minaj was thinking "If Not Now," maybe she'd get permission later. But Chapman is undoubtedly wondering "Why"?

No Frauds? Time Will Tell

This isn't the first copyright infringement lawsuit Minaj has faced. Earlier this year, one of Ariana Grande's songs in which Minaj is featured was the target of a copyright lawsuit. Artist Christopher O'Connor claims they lifted parts of his song, "J5 (T6)" for their "Side to Side" hit. Minaj was also sued by electronic music figure Clive Tanaka in 2013. Tanaka accused Minaj of stealing parts of the hit "Neu Chicago" for her hit "Starship."

If you've heard a new song on the radio that seems much too familiar to be a coincidence, call an intellectual property attorney. With the advent of the internet, garage bands around the world are being listened to by all sorts of people, including rock stars. Sometimes you've got to fight, for your right, to own your music.

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