Drake Wins Lawsuit Over Sample in 'Nothing Was the Same'
The lawsuit had argued that a sample on Drake's 2013 track qualified as copyright infringement.
A federal judge decided this week that a sample in Drake's 2013 track "Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2" falls under "fair use," not copyright infringement. An infringement lawsuit was filed against Drake and others by the Estate of James Smith back in 2014 following the Nothing Was the Same cut's use of the 1982 spoken-word piece "Jimmy Smith Rap" in the track's intro. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the victory of Drake's team in this suit is "particularly noteworthy" due to the rarity of successful fair use arguments in songwriting.
While the Estate had argued that Drake's sample was too long and that Smith, a jazz performer, was no fan of hip-hop, U.S. District Court judge William H. Pauley III suggested the intent behind the sample aligned with the message behind Smith's original recording while also adding something new:
Far from being extraneous to 'Pound Cake's' statement on the importance of 'real' music, Defendants' use of the lines describing the recording of Off the Top serve to drive the point home. The full extent of the commentary is, in this Court's view, that many musicians make records in similar ways (e.g. with the help of A&R experts or the stimulating effects of champagne), but that only 'real' music — regardless of creative process or genre — will stand the test of time.
Drake's two-part track, which features Jay Z, also samples Ellie Goulding's "Don't Say a Word" and features an interpolation of Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M." The track was produced by Boi-1da, Jordan Evans, and Detail.