Tracy Chapman Wins $450K in Copyright Suit Against Nicki Minaj Over Copyright Infringement


Tracy Chapman is victorious after a years-long legal battle with Nicki Minaj over copyright infringement.

Minaj (née Onika Tanya Maraj), 38, opted to avoid a trial and offered the “Fast Car” singer, 56, a settlement of $450,000, which she accepted, PEOPLE confirms. The resolution comes after Chapman claimed that the rapper unlawfully leaked a derivative version of her hit song “Baby Can I Hold You” called “Sorry,” featuring Nas. The track did not end up on Minaj’s album Queen, but instead went viral across the internet in 2018 after DJ Funkmaster Flex played it on the radio.

The legal documents became public in the California federal court on Thursday and stated that Chapman had officially accepted Minaj’s offer of judgment, per The Hollywood Reporter. Additionally, the 4-time Grammy-winner may be able to use a portion of the $450,000 she received to cover any legal fees associated with her claim.

“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, Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions,” Chapman said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“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.”

Chapman first sued Minaj in October 2018 for using her song without permission. Court documents obtained by PEOPLE at the time alleged: “The Infringing Work incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of the Composition, [which represent] its most recognizable and memorable parts. The Composition’s lyrics and vocal melody comprise approximately half of the Infringing Work, and are easily recognizable and identifiable as Chapman’s.”

The lawsuit claimed that Maraj had recorded “Sorry” before her team asked Chapman’s representatives if she could. Chapman’s team reportedly said no to each of multiple requests, which she seemingly felt were “too little, too late,” per The Blast.

Months ahead of Chapman’s court filings, Minaj allegedly wrote in one of several since-deleted tweets that she “had no clue” her song “sampled the legend #Tracy Chapman.”