Drake Beats Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Rapper Drake has beaten a copyright lawsuit brought by lawyers for the estate of jazz musician Jimmy Smith. The Canadian musician sampled Smith’s 1982 spoken-word recording Jimmy Smith Rap on his 2013 track Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.
Lawyers for the heirs of the late jazz star, who passed away in 2005, sued Drake for sampling the recording as although bosses at the rapper’s then record label Cash Money obtained licenses for the recording they allegedly failed to clear it with the estate.
The managers of Smith’s estate maintained they would not have granted Drake the license because Smith “wasn’t a fan of hip-hop”.
In a ruling obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, U.S. District Court judge William H. Pauley III found in Drake’s favor, stating that the rapper’s use of the sample constituted fair use as his sample changed the meaning of Smith’s words.
On the original recording, Smith says, “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.”
Drake’s sample cuts Smith’s references to jazz out so he instead says, “Only real music’s gonna last. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow.”
In his ruling, Judge Pauley wrote, “This is precisely the type of use that adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first (work) with new expression, meaning or message.”
He argued that Drake’s use of the sample, “transforms Jimmy Smith’s brazen dismissal of all non-jazz music into a statement that ‘real music,’ with no qualifiers, is ‘the only thing that’s gonna last.'”
Lawyers for Smith’s estate argued that as Drake also used other lines from the recording, a rant about the state of the music industry, as well as the key line, his sampling did not constitute fair use.
Judge Pauley disagreed, stating the amount used by the 30-year-old was “reasonable”.
Under U.S. copyright law, artists are allowed to use others’ copyrighted material if they transform the meaning of the original work.