Published Feb 28, 2013We're used to musicians being sued over uncleared samples, but we don't usually hear about lawsuits going the other way around. The new lawsuit filed by Wu-Tang Clan lynchpin RZA, on the other hand, is an exception to that rule.
It's an unusual case, but here's what happened: Teichiku Entertainment and its parent company, JVC Kenwood Holdings claimed that Kanye West's RZA-produced 2010 song "Dark Fantasy" used an uncleared sample from Meiko Kaji's "Gincho Wataridori." They demanded compensation, and this led West's label, Def Jam, to withhold over $50,000 in royalties.
According the Hollywood Reporter, RZA is now taking JVC Kenwood Holdings to court in an attempt to show that its copyright claim was meritless. He apparently plans to follow this up with other similar lawsuits.
One of RZA's lawyers, Howard King, told Hollywood Reporter, "We see dozens of baseless copyright-infringement claims against our clients every year. Rather than engaging in costly and fruitless dialogue trying to convince claimants and their contingency lawyers that our clients do not succumb to extortion and settle ridiculous claims, we have decided to commence declaratory relief actions to squash some of these claims and, perhaps, recover our costs of defending same. The RZA complaint is the second one of these we have filed this month, with more to come."
King added, "RZA did not use Teichiku's piano run, and it sounds different from the one in 'Dark Fantasy.' In fact, it would have been technologically impossible to sample the piano run without the rest of the music in 'Gincho Wataridori,' and the piano run in 'Gincho' is so simple that the least talented person in the studio could have replayed it had anyone wished to do so."
Listen "Dark Fantasy" below, as well as "Gincho Wataridori."