Syl Johnson Battles Jay-Z and Kanye WestPosted on December 20th, 2011 by tara in Music Industry News
Apparently, and no doubt shockingly, rappers have borrowed someone else’s music yet again…
Borrowed, stolen, or properly sampled is the question that has come into play. Soul music legend Syl Johnson had the intro of his track ‘Different Strokes’ sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West in the song ‘The Joy’ that appears on their new album Watch the Throne.
Jay-Z and Kanye are hoping to leverage the Federal Copyright laws for tracks pre-dating 1972 and show that the song would fall under fair use. However, Syl doesn’t see it that way and has officially filed a lawsuit again Jay-Z and Kanye, their label, and everyone else involved that he can. He’s taken on huge artists in the past and obviously isn’t afraid to go to bat for his art.
The whole situation has taken a turn for the worse, and: “This is where it starts to get ugly. Unfortunately lawyers for Jay-Z and Kanye West are attempting to discredit the claim entirely. ’Any claim based on the alleged use of Plaintiffs’ recording is barred because, (a) the allegedly copied portion of the Plaintiff’s recording is not part of the musical composition; and, if it is part of the composition, (b) is not protectable and/or (c) any use was de minimus.’ ” according to Paul Resnikoff, the Publisher and Founder of Digital Music News.
Read the rest of his article, When Should a Recording Copyright End? The Throne Battles a Soul Legend…, for the full story and to hear a sample of the two tracks in question side by side, so you can decide for yourself.
I think this situation yet again points to rappers continually sampling illegally from previous artists’ work. Jay-Z and Kanye can afford to license the music, so why didn’t they do that from the start, or at least do their due diligence to make sure that the track wouldn’t come under fire for infringement? You would think that a legendary soul artist would at least be owed that, after all by Jay-Z and Kanye including that intro on their track it makes you think that they were paying tribute to the legend and his work. However, they’ve come up short from a tribute and are now being called thieves…
What’s your take on the legality of this copyright infringement claim?