French Montana has found himself on the other end of a copyright lawsuit alleging that his 2022 single “Blue Chills” featured an unlicensed sample from a singer that claimed his team promised to pay but never did.
According to Billboard, the lawsuit was filed on Thursday in a North Carolina federal court. Skylar Gudasz’s 2020 song “Femme Fatale” can be heard in the background of “Blue Chills,” and the singer said representatives for the rapper offered to pay upfront and set up ongoing payments that included a fifty-percent share of the publishing copyright. The lawsuit also names the song’s producer Harry Fraud as well as Sony Music Entertainment and several others involved with “Blue Chills.”
“Despite repeated promises from defendants …. no signed agreement, fees, royalties, licensing agreements or monies have ever been sent to plaintiff,” Gudasz’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.
The Bronx rap star went ahead and dropped the single after allegedly backing out of the deal. Gudasz says Deborah Mannis-Gardner, a well-known industry executive known as the “queen” of sample clearance, contacted her about French using her record in an upcoming song.
Gudasz says her lawyer then negotiated a deal where she was expected to receive more than $7000 in upfront fees, .08 percent in master royalties, and the fifty-percent share in the copyright for “Blue Chills.” Once French released the track without signing the deal, Gudasz’s lawyer reached out to Mannis-Gardner to which she replied, “Oh jeez” in an e-mail.
Other than that response, the issue was never resolved with Gudasz’s team stating, “DMG continued to maintain there would be a final agreement, sent emails finalizing the licensing agreement and requested invoices from plaintiff, which plaintiff timely sent … and even sent plaintiff a congratulatory email.”
Gudasz’s lawyer also stated, “The unauthorized and infringing use by defendants of the song ‘Femme Fatale’ has caused irreparable harm, damage and injury. Plaintiff has been deprived of the rightful experience of benefitting and enjoying the fruits of her labor.”
According to Gudasz’s lawyer, French knew what he was doing because he was aware he needed a license for the sample but went ahead and released the song without one. The rapper also shared a post on Instagram congratulating Gudasz and even mentioned her role on the song during an episode of Apple Music’s Rap Life Radio.