The Culture Joint

Obrafour sues Drake for $10m over copyright infringement over song sampling

Drake and Obrafuor

Ghanaian rapper Obrafour is taking legal action against Canadian rapper Drake for sampling his 2003 remix of ‘Oye Ohene’ on Drake’s song ‘Calling My Name’ off the Honestly Nevermind album.

The documents presented to a New York court state that Drake did not obtain Obrafour’s permission to use the song.

The lawsuit claims that Drake and other defendants have benefited financially from the use of Obrafour’s work, citing the 4.1 million times the song has been streamed on YouTube, the 47,442,160 times it has been streamed on Spotify, and the tens of millions of times it has been streamed on Apple Music.

“Defendants released the Infringing Work on June 17, 2022, despite the fact that an agent of one or more Defendants had previously contacted Obrafour seeking to obtain Obrafour’s permission for the use of the Copyrighted Work in the Infringing Work.”

Obrafour is seeking damages in an amount not less than $10,000,000.

The sample is found at 0:53 seconds of the Drake tune, where it transitions into a house music vibe sending the song into a different type of ambiance compared to its initial trajectory.

“Killa cut!” is the chant heard multiple times.

Read more from the documents;

Mannis-Gardner sent the June 8, 2022 Clearance Email at the behest and on behalf of the Defendants, as an agent retained by Defendants for purposes of obtaining sample clearances.
Upon information and belief, the Drake song she identified therein as “Darkness (working title)”— which she stated contained a sample of the Copyrighted Work—is the song that was ultimately released with the song title “Calling My Name,” i.e., the Infringing Work.

“On June 13, 2022, Obrafour had not yet responded to the June 8, 2022 Clearance Email, and Mannis-Gardner sent Obrafour a follow-up email simply stating, “Hi confirming you received this email thanks [sic]” (the “June 13, 2022 Clearance Email”). The June 13, 2022 Clearance Email is annexed hereto as EXHIBIT D.

On June 17, 2022, a fourteen-song studio album entitled “Honestly, Nevermind” by Drake was released by Defendants Drake, OVO, Republic, and Universal, only hours after Drake and OVO announced the album on social media. In doing so, Drake, OVO, Republic, and Universal released “Honestly, Nevermind” pursuant to an increasingly prevalent ‘surprise’ model for high-profile commercial album releases, whereby an album is suddenly released by ‘surprise’—i.e., either with little or no notice or promotion to the consuming public.

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