Nicki Minaj denies copyright infringement as she responds to Tracy Chapman lawsuit

This is Minaj's first formal response to the lawsuit

Nicki Minaj has responded to allegations that she infringed copyright laws by using the music of Tracy Chapman without permission.

Last year, Chapman sued Minaj for copyright infringement, claiming that Minaj’s unreleased track, ‘Sorry’ interpolated Chapman’s ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ without permission. Now, Minaj has filed her first formal response to the alleged infringement according to The Blast.

According to federal court documents from February 22, Minaj denies the infringement arguing that she is protected with the ‘Doctrine of Fair Use’.


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

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

Minaj also claims that Chapman is not entitled to damages. In the original lawsuit, Chapman stated that she sought damages together with an order preventing Minaj from releasing the track.

Nicki Minaj denies claims of copyright infringement

Minaj was reported to have asked Chapman to clear a sample for use shortly before the release of her last album, ‘Queen’, something that was denied. The rapper now “admits that her representatives made several requests for permission to release a musical interpolation that used music and lyrics from [‘Baby Can I Hold You’].”


Minaj’s desire to use Chapman’s music was made public when the rapper tweeted in July: “There’s a record on ‘Queen’ that features one of the greatest rappers of all time. Had no clue it sampled the legend Tracy Chapman”.

Tracey Chapman’s self-titled album

Minaj released her fourth studio album, ‘Queen’, in August 2018 with features from EminemLil WayneAriana GrandeThe Weeknd, and FutureNME’s three-star verdict of Queen described it as a “mighty regal affair”.

Last year, Minaj took aim at both Spotify and Travis Scott, after her anticipated fourth album ‘Queen’ failed to bag the top spot in the U.S. charts.

‘Queen’ took the second spot with 185,000 unit sales – only beaten by the 205,000 copies of Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’. Minaj contested the unit sales at the time – claiming that Scott had only achieved the top spot by selling ‘Season Passes’, which provide fans with pre-sale access to his live shows if they purchase the album.