Home > IP Express > Copyright

Universal Music sued for copyright infringement over Mary J. Blige sample

Post Time:2024-04-08 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

April 5 (Reuters) - Universal Music Group (UMG.AS) is facing a new lawsuit in New York federal court over an allegedly unauthorized sample in hip-hop soul singer Mary J. Blige's 1992 hit song "Real Love."

New York-based Tuff City Records told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday that "Real Love" uses part of the Honey Drippers' often-sampled 1972 funk song "Impeach the President" that it did not clear, requesting an unspecified amount of monetary damages from Universal Music's publishing arm.

Representatives for UMG did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. Tuff City's attorney Hillel Parness of Parness Law Firm declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Tuff City said in the lawsuit that it owns copyrights in "tens of thousands of musical recordings and compositions from the genres of Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, New Orleans and Latin Music, much of which might otherwise fall into obscurity." The label has previously sued over samples allegedly misused in songs by other high-profile musicians including the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean.

The lawsuits against the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z were later dismissed. West's label and Tuff City settled their dispute, and Tuff City dismissed its lawsuit against Ocean's label two months after filing it.

Tuff City told the court on Thursday that Universal Music Publishing has "repeatedly refused to engage Plaintiff in substantive negotiations" over the sample, which it said was "difficult to reconcile" with the fact that UMG Recordings, a different UMG unit, had agreed to a separate license for the "Real Love" sample in the past.

Blige's "Real Love," from her debut album "What's the 411?," peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1992.

The case is Tuff City Records v. Universal Music Publishing Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:24-cv-02585.