Back in 2014, was for copyright infringement over the spoken word sample that opens his -featuring track “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.” The lawsuit was brought by the estate of jazz musician Jimmy Smith, whose 1982 song “Jimmy Smith Rap” gets prominently sampled on Drake’s track. Yesterday, a judge determined that the sample is fair use and therefore, there’s no liability for copyright infringement, . In his , U.S. District Court judge William H. Pauley III broke down how the use of the sample constitutes fair use.
In the original, Smith says, “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow. But jazz was, is and always will be.” In Drake’s version, it’s cut down to, “Only real music’s gonna last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow.” Judge Pauley notes that Smith’s original “is an unequivocal statement on the primacy of jazz over all other forms of popular music” while Drake’s version turns it into “a statement that ‘real music,’ with no qualifiers, is ‘the only thing that’s gonna last.’”
Because the purpose of the “Pound Cake” edit is “sharply different” from Smith’s original message, Judge Pauley argues Drake’s use “adds something new” and is “transformative.” Therefore, he writes, “this factor weighs in favor of a finding of fair use.”
Smith’s estate also argued that by using 35 seconds of the minute-long track, Drake “appropriated an unreasonable portion” of the song. Judge Pauley disagreed, saying the sample’s length is “reasonable in proportion to the needs of the intended transformative use.” He continued:
The full extent of the commentary is, in this Court’s view, that many musicians make records in similar ways (e.g. with the help of A&R experts or the stimulating effects of champagne), but that only “real” music—regardless of creative process or genre—will stand the test of time. Accordingly, this factor favors a finding of fair use.
Boi-1da and Jordan Evans, the producers of the track, were also named in the lawsuit alongside Drake, Cash Money, Universal, EMI, Republic, Apple, Amazon, and others. Find both “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” and “Jimmy Smith Rap” below.