Copyright Law

George Clinton Sues Black Eyed Peas, Says 'Shut Up' on Sampling

Funk recording artist George Clinton is emboldened by recent court victories, including a 2009 federal appeals court decision (PDF) acknowledging his original ownership of the phrase “bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yay.”

Now he’s becoming “more aggressive on the copyright front,” Reuters reports, with a lawsuit against the Black Eyed Peas for sampling one of his songs. The suit says the music group sampled his song “(Not Just) Knee Deep” in remixes of “Shut Up.”

Clinton claims a producer for the Black Eyed Peas had asked him for a license to sample his song in 1999 for a “Shut Up” remix, but he rejected the request. His suit, which also names the band’s record label and music publisher, claims he didn’t realize at the time that the band had already sampled the song. The sample was then used on a new 2009 album, he says.

According to Reuters, most musicians seek permission for sampling, but those who don’t “have often been given a free pass.”

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