Chance the Rapper Faces Lawsuit Over A Sample On His First Mixtape
Free can still cost you
Chance the Rapper has been sued for copyright infringement by former jazz musician and current civil rights lawyer Lonnie Liston Smith, who alleges that the Chicago rapper used a portion of his 1980 recording “Bridge Through Time,” distributed by Columbia Records, on the song “Windows,” which can be found on Chance’s pre-fame 10 Day mixtape, released in 2012.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Smith’s lawsuit complains that Chance ‘blatantly and willfully infringed’ on “Bridge Through Time,” for which he registered a copyright in May of 1979. Smith’s attorneys claim that they reached out to Chance’s legal team, who “refused to take any action to halt access to the infringing song.” Judging by the introductory portions of both tracks, it appears that Smith has a legitimate gripe.
Initially, the 10 Day mixtape was uploaded to the internet as a free project, and it remained a free project even after Chance’s celebrity exploded. However, earlier this year in January, Chance tweeted about the mixtape being “fraudulently” uploaded to paid platforms like iTunes and Apple Music. It’s since been taken down.
10day was fraudulently put on iTunes and applemusic. It’ll be down shortly. 10day and acid rap will always be inclusive, elusive and free
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) January 8, 2017
The upload and removal of the project may play a key role in Smith’s case, as the musician—who played with Miles Davis and Pharaoh Sanders over the years—is asked a federal judge to order Chance to stop “copying, distributing, performing, selling or offering to sell” the track. “Bridge Through Time” has been sampled by several artists, including UGK and Jay-Z.
Regardless, as HipHopDX points out, an artist can still be found guilty of copyright infringement in the case of a free release—Mac Miller’s issues with “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” sampling Lord Finesse is one fairly recent reminder. “The free K.I.D.S. mixtape was used to help launch Mac Miller’s career,” wrote acclaimed author Amir Said last year, who added that the Pittsburgh rapper used the free project, which featured “Kool Aid,” to “earn revenue from shows and other means.”
Chance hasn’t yet publicly commented on the lawsuit.