Drake sued for copyright infringement of a beat

The aftermath of Blurred Lines continues, from Ed Sheeran, to Katy Perry, and now Drake is being sued for a beat...however, this case is slightly different in that Drake is accused of sampling without a licence, not copying a substantial part by recreating. Started from the Bottom Now We're Here with the details and other terrible Drake puns...

The parties and their music
The action is brought by Samuel Nicholas III (known as Sam Skully), the author and owner of the copyright in a beat titled “Roll Call (Instrumental)”. In 2000, Skully published a CD which included the tracks  “Roll Call” and an instrumental-only version for DJs to use to create mixes called “Roll Call (Instrumental)”.

There are nine defendants which include Drake, the producers and publishing companies involved in two songs “In My Feelings” and “Nice For What” from Drake’s 2018 album Scorpion, both Billboard number one singles.

A party with no music
A side story that may or may not be of any relevance to the case - at paragraph 15 of the complaint the plaintiff relives a disappointing New-Year’s-Eve-Eve in 2017 when he arrived at Gasa Gasa nightclub in New Orleans for One Dance. Defendant number three Big Freedia was supposed to be DJing. According to the complaint, when Skully arrived Big Freedia “immediately stopped playing and would not resume playing”. This story was quite distracting for this Kat. Naturally she had to launch an investigation into the venue to find out the proximity of the doorway and the DJ booth because, unless the place was empty, it seems hard to believe that the DJ would have known that Skully had stepped into the venue in order to immediately stop playing. I guess Skully had to just hold on and go home...

A surprise party 
Kiki Do You Love Me
Image: Qiang Chen
On 29th July 2019, Genius News published a YouTube video of an interview with defendant number one, producer Adam Pigott (known as BlaqNmilD). In the video, Pigott is talking about the influence of New Orleans Bounce in the Drake songs “Nice for What” and “In My Feelings”. He explains at 1 minute 50 that he added a bounce beat loop called “That Beat” to the records, which must be the best he ever had because it is also sampled in several other tracks he produced including with Big Freedia. The video shows an 18 second sound clip of “That Beat” while displaying an audio spectrum labelled "blaq_bouncebeat.wav". Skully claims that “That Beat” is in fact his copyright protected work “Roll Call (Instrumental)”. [FYI if you search Roll Call Instrumental on YouTube, you get Thomas the Tank Engine, but this is the plaintiff's beat].

What the complaint does not specify is how the plaintiff knows that "That Beat" is "Roll Call (Instrumental)" used in both Drake's songs and Big Freedia's, it just says that it is a direct copy. Typically Bounce songs include one of a limited number of beats, of which Roll Call is one. However, a different source suggests that the song actually samples Drag Rap, another popular beat in Bounce.

The complaint seeks a trial by jury and all the usual relief for copyright infringment; damages, treble damages, profits, and Money in the Grave. Since the complaint, filed 21st August 2019, a summons was issued giving the defedants 21 days to respond to the claim.

In 2017 Drake and the same publishers successfully defended a copyright infringement case under Fair Use for a sample of a spoken-word recording, after a New York judge determined that the use was transformative. The case turned on the fact that Drake's song transformed the message of the original work "adding something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning or message." If the plaintiff's are successfull in proving that the beat was used, the defendants might have thought they were exempt under Fair Use but in this case were probably Doing It Wrong
Drake sued for copyright infringement of a beat Drake sued for copyright infringement of a beat Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Monday, September 09, 2019 Rating: 5


  1. Replies
    1. Hello, yes sorry it is there I just forgot to put the word "action" in bold so you could see!

  2. https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/drake_infringement_lawsuit.pdf


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