The legal dispute between Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman has finally come to an end. On Dec. 17, 2020, Minaj offered to pay Chapman $450,000 to avoid taking the case to trial, according to documents made public in a California federal court.
In the initial report by The Hollywood Reporter, Chapman accepted Minaj’s Rule 68 Offer of Judgement, which includes absolving any and “all costs and attorney fees incurred” by Chapman since the filing date of the copyright infringement lawsuit. The Federal Court will enter judgment in favor of Chapman and against Minaj.
“As a songwriter and an independent publisher I have been known to be protective of my work,” Chapman shared in a statement issued to The New York Times and other outlets. “I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample. This lawsuit was a last resort.”
In October 2018, Chapman sued Minaj for the unauthorized interpolated sampling of her 1988 single, “Baby Can I Hold You,” after the rapper’s unreleased song, “Sorry,” was leaked by Hot 97’s DJ Funkmaster Flex. Months prior to the song hitting the web, the New York City native revealed her Queen album hit a clearance snag due to the Chapman sample being used without her knowledge. Minaj publicly asked Chapman to contact her via Twitter but to no avail.
Minaj’s lawyer, Peter W. Ross, issued the following comment about the closed case: “We settled for one reason only. It would have cost us more to go to trial.”
Read Tracy Chapman’s full statement below.
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.
As a songwriter and an independent publisher, I have been known to be protective of my work. I have never authorized the use of my songs for samples or requested a sample. This lawsuit was a last resort—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.