Drake found himself on the business end of a lawsuit in 2014 after the estate of Jimmy Smith went after the Canadian superstar over a sample used in the track “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” from 2013’s Nothing Was The Same. A judge ruled in favor of Drizzy after supporting the fact that the rapper’s sampling of a spoken word piece titled “Jimmy Smith Rap” was free to use under the copyright “fair use” law.
The Hollywood Reporter writes:
What makes Drake’s summary judgment victory against the Estate of James Oscar Smith particularly noteworthy is that rulings of copyright “fair use” are rare in the realm of songcraft. When it comes to documentaries and less abstract art forms, judges can parse meaning and figure out whether use of copyrighted material is transformative. But in disputes over song sampling, parties have long tended to wage fights over other issues like ownership records and whether the copying is sufficiently substantial. This “Pound Cake” case had those elements as well, but this one is now ending at the trial court because U.S. District Court judge William H. Pauley III has taken the unusual step of addressing Drake’s purpose in sampling.
According to the facts laid out in Pauley’s opinion, Cash Money hired a music license company to obtain all necessary licenses. The defendants obtained a license for the recording of “Jimmy Smith Rap,” but clearing the composition became problematic. The Estate maintained it would not have granted a license for the composition because Jimmy Smith, a jazz musician, “wasn’t a fan of hip hop.”
As THR notes, on Smith’s 1982 track, he states in verse that, “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last. All that other bullsh*t is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.”
Drake sampled a portion of the track, which Judge Pauley opined that there’s little reason to think that Smith’s lyric regarding the superiority of jazz is grounds to declare the track as a violation of the copyright.
Read THR’s full breakdown of the matter here.