A judge has ruled in favour of rapper Nicki Minaj in her ongoing court battle, saying she did not commit copyright infringement when she created a song based on Tracy Chapman’s ‘Baby Can I Hold You’.

The song, which featured on Tracy Chapman’s 1988 debut album, was interpolated into the 2017 track ‘Sorry’ by Nicki Minaj but was eventually dropped from the tracklist for her 2018 album Queen as Chapman repeatedly refused to give Minaj and her representatives permission to use the song.

However, despite the song being dropped from Nicki’s album, it was somehow obtained by DJ Funkmaster Flex, who then broadcast it on air, which lead to parts of the track being aired on radio show The Breakfast Club. It was then that Chapman filed the lawsuit, while Minaj denied giving the recording to DJ Funkmaster Flex.

According to the original suit, Chapman claimed that Nicki’s song “incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody” of the “most recognisable and memorable parts” of ‘Baby Can I Hold You’. It also stated that Chapman’s “lyrics and vocal melody comprise approximately half” of ‘Sorry’, and are “easily recognisable and identifiable as Chapman’s.”

Minaj then refuted that Chapman “has not properly registered her claim to the copyright in the Composition” and further claimed that she “is not the owner of the copyright in issue and therefore lacks standing to bring the claims alleged in the Complaint.”

However, On Wednesday US district judge Virginia A. Phillips sided with Minaj over the matter, labelling her interpolation of Chapman’s song as “fair use” – which Minaj claimed in her first formal response to the lawsuit – and did not constitute as copyright infringement on Chapman’s intellectual property, Variety reported.

“Artists usually experiment with works before seeking licenses from rights holders and rights holders typically ask to see a proposed work before approving a license,” Judge Phillips said in the ruling.

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“A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”

In their legal defence, Minaj’s team previously claimed that ruling in favour of Chapman would “impose a financial and administrative burden” on artists. “Such free-flowing creativity is important to all recording artists, but particularly in hip-hop.”

“With that category of music, a recording artist typically goes into the studio and experiments with dozens of different ‘beats’ or snippets of melodies, before hitting upon a pleasing combination.”

Check out ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ by Tracy Chapman:

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