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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

Drake Wins on Sampling Fair Use; Plaintiffs' Song Ownership Muddy

While copyright registration normally constitutes prima facie evidence of copyright ownership, the court noted that the estate had registered the song copyright 31 years after it was originally published and only in response to the defendants' sampling of the song on Drake's album.

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In 1982, jazz organist Jimmy Smith released an album on Elektra/Asylum called Off The Top. The last track on the album was a spoken-word recording titled “Jimmy Smith Rap” (JSR). One of the lyrics proclaimed: “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.” The album label did not list a composer for JSR, nor was the composition copyright registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or a performing rights organization prior to the album’s release. Jimmy Smith died in 2005.

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