Record Label Says Kanye West Violated Copyright By Sampling Eddie Bo

By Joseph Mandour on October 4, 2012

microphone Los Angeles – A record label accused hip hop star Kanye West on Friday of copyright infringement over his sampling of the Eddie Bo song “Hook & Sling” for several of his own works, saying West and his labels went beyond the terms of their initial licensing deal for the sample.

The label licensed the song to West for use on his album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but that licensing deal did not cover his additional uses of the sample in the songs in other formats, TufAmerica’s complaint in Manhattan federal court against West’s labels Roc-A-Fella Records LC and UMG Recordings Inc. says.

The sample is used on the album’s songs “Lost In The World” and “Who Will Survive In America?” The allegedly infringing uses include the video for “Lost In The World” and a short film made to accompany the song “Runaway.”

TufAmerica is the owner of the Tuff City Music Group, founded in 1981 as a hip hop label. It has since acquired the rights to thousands of songs in other genres like blues, soul, funk and R&B, and bought the rights to “Hook & Sling” in 1996.

West and the labels agreed in principle in 2011 to enter into a license with TufAmerica solely for the use of the sample in “Lost In The World,” and paid $62,500 as a portion of the agreed-to licensing fees before all of the license terms had been agreed to. They failed and refused, though, to enter into written license agreements that accounted for their multiple other uses of the sample, TufAmerica claims.

TufAmerica never authorized the reproduction, distribution or public performance of any of the additional uses of the sample, and West and his labels have no right to engage in any such activity, the complaint says.

West has prevailed over copyright claims in the past, including in one case that an appeals court threw out in August challenging West’s lyrics to the song “Stronger” from the album “Graduation.”

The Seventh Circuit dismissed little-known rapper Vince Peters’ claims that West poached lines from one of his own songs, since both referred back to the classic Friedrich Nietzsche quote, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

“Although the fact that both songs quote from a 19th century German philosopher might, at first blush, seem to be an unusual coincidence, West correctly notes that the aphorism has been repeatedly invoked in song lyrics over the past century,” the Seventh Circuit said in its ruling.

West and Jay-Z were sued in October 2011 by Syl Johnson over their sampling of his song “Different Strokes” on their collaborative album “Watch the Throne.” The two rappers settled that lawsuit in March.

TufAmerica, meanwhile, first gained significant publicity earlier this year when it sued the Beastie Boys for copyright infringement relating to samples used on decades-old albums just one day before the group’s Adam “MCA” Yauch died of cancer.

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