Chapman’s lawsuit was over Nicki’s 2018 track “Sorry.”
Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman have been involved in a lengthy copyright dispute since 2018, one that is finally coming to an end with a nearly half-million-dollar payment from Nicki Minaj. Nicki’s leaked track “Sorry” featured a sample from Chapman’s 1988 song “Baby Can I Hold You” which Chapman did not clear with Minaj. The song was originally leaked by Funkmaster Flex in the summer of 2018 but was later removed from his website.
Nicki has issued hypocritical statements in the past when it comes to the sample, as she first publicly asked Chapman to clear the sample on Twitter in July 2018. She asked fans to vote on whether she should keep the record and push back the album release for Chapman to clear the sample, or if she should just lose the record and keep the original album release date. Results were pretty mixed. Nicki later denied in February 2019 that “Sorry” infringed on any copyright of Chapman’s.
In September 2020, a small victory was given to Nicki Minaj when Judge Virginia A. Phillips sided with her, saying that “Sorry” was protected under fair use. It wasn’t until this past week when Chapman and her team finally pulled the W in the lawsuit, in a "Rule 68 Offer of Judgment." As part of this judgment, Chapman has been awarded the sum $450,000.
Chapman released a statement on the lawsuit's resolution, saying:
"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."