"Only real music's gonna last..."
Many of us are probably familiar with Drake's "Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2", the closing track of his 2013 album Nothing Was The Same. While we may associate the sample at the beginning as a sign that a euphoric beat drop is about to occur, the estate of jazz musician Jimmy Smith doesn't derive the same rush from it. The estate sued Drake in 2017 for using the 1982 spoken-word recording, "Jimmy Smith Rap", in his song, but the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Drake's sampling constituted as "fair use".
Following this ruling, the case made its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday (Feb. 3), a panel of judges agreed that the sample use in "Pound Cake" should be protected due to it being "transformative", meaning it “uses the copyrighted material itself for a purpose, or imbues it with a character different from that for which it was created."
“The message of the ‘Jimmy Smith Rap’ is one about the supremacy of jazz to the derogation of other types of music, which–unlike jazz–will not last,” the judges explain in the legal docs (provided by The Hollywood Reporter). “On the other hand, ‘Pound Cake’ sends a counter message–that it is not jazz music that reigns supreme, but rather all ‘real music,’ regardless of genre.”
Essentially, Drake was saved by the fact that his song "criticizes the jazz-elitism that the 'Jimmy Smith Rap' espouses." The appeals court also contended that "Pound Cake" did not usurp demand from the original recording by "serving as a market substitute", as the two works appeal to different audiences.