According to several confirmed reports, Nicki Minaj landed a victory in court when a judge ruled that Minaj did not commit copyright infringement against Tracy Chapman for her 2017 hit “Sorry”.
Variety reported that U.S. district Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that Nicki’s experimentation with Tracy Chapman’s song constitutes “fair use” and is not copyright infringement.
“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,” the judge wrote. “A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”
Minaj’s 2017 song “Sorry” featuring Nas contained most of the lyrics and some of the melody came from Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” which Minaj believed came from Shelly Thunder’s rendition of “Sorry”.
The ruling is significant for the music industry as it protects the practice of developing a new song based on existing material, and then seeking a license from the original artist prior to release.