Tory Lanez has been accused by Madonna of illegally sampling her hit “Into The Groove” for his song “In For It”. In a tweet from a fan, the pop goddess confronted the rapper and threatened to sue him if he doesn’t cut vocals from his track. “It’s not nice when you sample my songs,” she wrote. Lanez, who is currently touring with Chris Brown, has yet to comment on accusations.
The samples at hand come from the 1984 hit “Burning Up” by Madonna, which sampled ABBA’s 1974 single “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight). Her 2003 hit “Hung Up” also sampled the same song, but replaced the original vocals with hers.
Madonna is reportedly upset that Tory Lanez used her side-chained kick and snare drums on his track, which she says are nearly identical to those used in her 1984 hit.
Here some points are discussed-
1. Longer-lasting pop music career.
Madonna is one of the few people who can point to both longevity and relevance. She’s one of a handful of stars that has been able to stay on top in the industry for over 30 years. She is a skilled businesswoman and her career speaks for itself.
The sampling accusation is not uncommon in this industry. When sampling or referencing other music, the process usually comes with paperwork involving paperwork with the original song’s publishing company, securing licenses and clearing rights (if needed), etc.
2. The “All I Need” sample with Glen Ballard
Madonna received heat from the public and former collaborators when she used a sample of Glen Ballard’s song for her “Hung Up” on her 2003 hit. When asked about the band, Madonna responded that they were her friends and nothing further, but later disputed it. In 2008, Ballard was asked by VH1 why he didn’t speak up at the time about the usage:
“I gave Madonna my blessing for recording my song “Hung Up,” which is a very good song. She used parts of it in her record, which is fine.
I don’t have a problem with that. But I do have a problem with the fact that she never credited me for this song, which is another important song. A lot of people take these things on faith and mine wasn’t any different.”
3. The “Into The Groove” sample at hand
Madonna’s own personal record company, Maverick Records, sued her over her use of the ABBA record in 2004 and again in 2008. Both times, Madonna received a verdict of $1.6 million each time due to copyright infringement and unfair competition a whopping $2.4 million total for the two cases, combined (according to Gayle Moran). The court case in 2008 revealed that Madonna’s record company paid $62,500 for the use of the sample for both this hit and “Burning Up”.
4. Copyright laws and “fair use”
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 states that copyrighted work can be sampled as long as it complies with two conditions: the new work must not exceed more than 10% of another work, and it must be transformed into something new by adding at least one discernible original element. The second point is particularly vague and open to interpretation in court cases like this one.
Moreover, sampling as a whole has been an issue for the courts and is currently being reviewed by the US Supreme Court for potential changes to the laws of “fair use.” In a nutshell, “fair use” allows for copyrighted work to be used without the legal and proper licensing process that comes with it.
The BMI v. CBS court case (1984) is a prime example of this, in which television networks were sued by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) after using pieces of copyrighted music in their TV shows and soundtracks without prior consent or compensation. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this case yet because an interpretation could change depending on what side of the spectrum you’re on the artists or the record company.
5. Madonna’s prior relationship with the artist
The sample in question is reportedly used in a song by Tory Lanez, known for his 2016 hit “Say It” featuring Drake. Madonna’s prior relationship with Drake may have played a role in her decision to confront Lanez.
This points to the idea that maybe this is more of a personal thing between artists rather than the law coming into play here. Of course, if that’s the case, it still means Madonna acknowledged the sample and let it slide for this long, until she felt like saying something now.