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Jay-Z sued over “Run this Town” as sampling lawsuits spread

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A sample troll is stalking Jay-Z over Run This Town, claiming the rapper’s 2009 hit from Blueprint 3 uses sounds from a 1969 track called Hook and Sling by the late pianist Eddie Bo.

A lawsuit, filed in New York federal court, claims that Run this Town uses sounds from Hook and Sling dozens of times, and asks for profits from Jay-Z and his record labels, and an order prohibiting the rapper from distributing the song.

So who exactly filed the lawsuit? Good question. The plaintiff is a company called TufAmerica, which is the same classy outfit that sued the Beastie Boys last year on the same day that one member of the trio, MCA, passed away.

As the New York Times explained, Tuf America “has made a business out of buying the rights to old songs and suing artists who sample them without permission.” A similar type of company is responsible for the highly-publicized lawsuit over Robin Thicke’s summer hit Blurred Lines.

In the bigger pictures, the cases represent a resurgence of the legal forces that chill artistic expression and that almost smothered hip-hop in the 1990’s. As scholars have noted, the cost of clearing sample would make it near impossible today for groups like the Beastie Boys to make sample-based masterpieces like 1989’s Paul’s Boutique.

The new lawsuit (below) may also trigger a debate over whether musicians like Jay-Z aka Shawn Carter are “stealing.” You can decide for yourself; here’s the two songs — and keep in mind any profits from this lawsuit are likely to trickle to investors and lawyers rather than musicians or Eddie Bo’s heirs.

Here’s Jay-Z performing Run this Town with Kanye West and Rhianna:

And here’s Eddie Bo playing Hook and Sling:

Tuf America v Jay-Z

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13 Responses to “Jay-Z sued over “Run this Town” as sampling lawsuits spread”

  1. “a resurgence of the legal forces that chill artistic expression and that almost smothered hip-hop in the 1990′s”…really? These guys are STEALING… and you are defending it as ‘culture’????? what a load of crap…

  2. It’s easy to call them trolls, but often deals like this are the only way for artists to get any kind of support for their rights. They don’t have enough money to pay for the lawsuits themselves so they make a deal with lawyers who take a chance.

    This is also good for society. When the lawyers have some skin in the game, they get serious. They don’t file marginal lawsuits so they can bill all of the hours. They don’t waste their time writing cease-and-desist letters just to bill clients for the waste of time.

  3. it’s worth making a comment on the integrity of the artists involved. In the case of Gotye’s unforeseen hit he Gotye he inked early deal awarding 45 percent of the song’s royalties to Bofa’s estate.

  4. The best thing for any business, like Carter is to make himself and his trademarks
    judgment proof with foreign holding companies and debt so he can ignore these trolls.
    Let them get all the judgements they want, but good luck collecting a dime. After a while
    they will just go away because the ROI with be zero.. No one should be able to sue for
    copyright unless they actually add value to the copyright..

  5. to @jsosko and @dlamrac “patent trolls” as the article says are a detriment to innovation.
    A point in favor of this being a big greedy scheme is that while intellectual property is valuable, more value is added then taken away by some creative producer deciding to take a part of that old song and make it into something that it never would have been without him. And he or she never would have been able to experiment with it if it was so expensive to use in the first place.
    These Tuf America people who have done nothing creative, but are piggybacking off the work of people who actually make things and saying they deserve royalties.
    If the original artist and their estate had no problem with it, then I think creative freedom trumps profit.

  6. drleeonardo

    Don’t hear any similarities at all. How about some times on the two recordings we can compare? So far smells to me like small time gritfters trying to make a buck

  7. isn’t it possible that you are looking at this from the wrong perspective?

    just because an entity has gone around buying rights with the intent to benefit financially from enforcing same doesn’t make them a troll per se. if their claims are valid what does it matter who the current owner of those rights are? if in fact the claims prove valid then perhaps it’s jay z and others who have unjustly enriched themselves on the IP of others. if someone like TufAmerica (regardless of what you think of them) hadn’t the means to aggregate and pursue such claims, how many creators would have to silently suffer the unlawful appropriation of their work?

  8. If you’re in the song business, and you take part of someone’s song, and add it to yours… don’t be surprised when this happens.

    Frankly, this publication’s bias toward copyright infringement and patent infringement is really questionable at times. Come on guys!

  9. Heard that whole Hook and Sling song. If the courts has ears like i do, this isn’t a case worth the time. I’m all for artists in music, video, photo, painting, etc. getting compensated and recognition for their works, but I cannot hear similarities between the two songs.

  10. Does not sound much like it I would never guess the two where related another vanilla ice lawsuit but times are hard so the saying is “when times are hard just sue someone”