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copyright music notesMusicians and artists need to build upon their influences from the past without—hopefully—being sued for “stealing,” while at the same time protecting their own intellectual property. This tightrope has long been the focus of copyright battles, but as technology advances, the courts are working to keep up. In this article, we look at the recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in the Tracy Chapman v. Nicki Minaj case, and examine an evolution in copyright law that the recording industry must take close note of—intermediate copying, artificial intelligence, and its intersection with the doctrine of fair use.

Initially, the recent decision by the court in Chapman v. Minaj confirms that the doctrine of fair use remains a stalwart in the ability of artists to build upon their influences and defend claims of copyright infringement.

In 2018, Chapman sued Minaj, alleging copyright infringement of the musical composition of Chapman’s song “Baby Can I Hold You.” Chapman alleged Minaj created and publically distributed an unauthorized derivative of the work after Minaj used a portion of the work in Minaj’s studio experimentation to create a demo of Minaj’s new work entitled “Sorry.”

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