Jay-Z & Kanye West Respond To Syl Johnson's Lawsuit

The Throne files a response to the soul veteran's copyright lawsuit.

This past October, soul veteran Syl Johnson sued Jay-Z and Kanye West, as well as Universal Music Group and Def Jam, for sampling his song “Different Strokes” without permission for “The Joy.” Last Thursday, the duo combated the lawsuit, denying the allegations though acknowledging that the song was released prior to Watch the Throne.

According to Billboard.biz, Hov and ‘Ye cite federal copyright law, claiming that because the song was made before 1972 (when the law was enacted regarding covers), they were legally able to use it.

“Any claim based on the alleged use of Plaintiffs' recording is is barred because, inter alia, (a) the allegedly copied portion of the Plaintiff's recording is not part of the musical composition; and, if it is part of the composition, (b) is not protectable and/or (c) any use was de minimus,” read the response, filed by their attorney Carrie Hall.

HipHopDX will keep you updated on the case as it unfolds.

RELATED: Syl Johnson Speaks On Jay-Z & Kanye West's Uncleared Sample On "The Joy"


  • Anonymous

    PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: It is important that you understand the difference between a "musical work" and a "sound recording". A musical work and a sound recording of a musical work have separate copyright protection. The children's song, "Three Blind Mice" is absolutely in the public domain worldwide. You may publish it, record it, sing it, use it in your movie, or do anything else with "Three Blind Mice" that you can ever imagine. However, no sound recordings of "Three Blind Mice" are in the public domain. If you want to use any sound recording - even a sound recording of a public domain song - you must either license a recording or create your own recording. Several different copyright attorneys have given us quite complicated explanations regarding copyright protection for sound recordings, but all agree that all essentially ALL sound recordings are under copyright protection in the USA until the year 2067. There are, of course, exceptions to everything, and we suspect that there really are some PD sound recordings. However, the federal and state laws are so tangled and complicated, it is virtually impossible to do confident sound recording PD research. There are several U.S. web sites claiming that sound recordings made in the United States prior to February 15, 1972, are in the public domain, and there are links to U.S. Copyright Office publications stating: "Sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, are not eligible for Federal copyright protection." It is quite true that pre-1972 sound recordings had no Federal copyright protection, but they are still well protected under state law. We have had this reviewed independently by several copyright attorneys across the U.S. Each has confidently and independently told us that between federal and state copyright protection, virtually every sound recording in the USA is protected until the year 2067.

  • Anonymous

    Jaymalls: Lmao.... That's what his old ass get... I heard Ye offered this money hungry peace of shit musician a few stacks for his 2 grunts but he wanted something in the 6-digit range. That's 1 of the reasons y the joy didn't make MBDTF.... The crazy part is Ye offered this fool the money out the goodness of his heart... He already new he could use it because Cypress Hill won there case against this idiot! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ YOUNGUN DON'T KNOW SH!T FLAPPING HIS GUMS

  • NONO

    If Syl Johnson filed a PA copyright form, he could argue a strong case. I'm sure Lil John would sue you for using his "YEA" on a track. My bet is that they are saying that the part used is a sound bit.

  • gaetarick

    This is why there are no more dope Hip Hop songs ... DJs who experimented with manipulating vinyl on two turntables gave birth to Hip Hop music. In the 1970s, when hip hop was confined to local dance parties, it was not necessary to obtain copyright clearance in order to sample recorded music at these parties. The genre went mainstream, and it became necessary to pay to obtain legal clearance for samples. This is why the 1990's Hip Hop is the "Golden Era" ... this music was made before all these lawsuits.

    • NONO

      You are incorrect. I appreciate your research on the internet, but the 1990's are "NOT THE GOLDEN ERA" of Hip Hop. The 80's are the golden era. The 1990's birthed some of hip hops biggest and most controversial lawsuits. From Luke Campbell, to Vanilla Ice,..etc.. it was the 90's that started the largest attack on hip hop in the form of lawsuits.

  • Anonymous

    This is why when I use samples I just give the song out for free because I don't have time for bullshit like this. "Fuck Beyonce" Carolina DT on Youtube!

  • Anonymous

    I'm not big on most copyright laws or the RIAA because they're a corporate mafia out to police the internet, sue people, and protect their racket by abusing the laws and lobbying politicians to do it, but there's a simple principle at work and Jay and Kanye are in the wrong on this one. If you want to sample someone's work for your own song to sell your album, then you're obligated to respect that and pay them for it. If they ask for more than you expect, it's beyond arrogant to decide "that's too much so I'm going to do it anyway and use my lawyers to use a loophole". Even if the guy asked for way too much to sample it, then fuck it and move on, otherwise you're ripping off their work to make money off it for yourself for free. That's a dick move. Jay-Z and Kanye West are some of the richest entertainers in the world, and if the song they're sampling is good enough for them, they should just pay it. I bet my life if someone used a song Kanye produced to make money off it for themselves but decided he wanted too much, he would lawyer up and sue them into oblivion. There's no reason Jay or Kanye can't write a check if they wanted the song that much, they're not hurting, and to have your lawyer use a loophole to rip someone off their due so you can make money off their music is bullshit period.

    • Jaymalls

      Lmao... You wrote an essay about nothin! Read the actual article first, then come back with a better rebuttle b! Ohh, n just because Jay n Ye r rich doesn't mean they r suppose 2 write a huge ass check 2 anyone that demands 1. Just look at MC Hammer if u want an example of what could happen if u keep doing shit like that!

    • guerilla jones

      did you not read the article?

  • to sample or not to sample

    1972 dose that mean i can still sample before that year and not get sued?? answer plz anyone

    • Ddot

      That isn't quite the case. Any material that is over 75 years old, becomes public, and then can be used. In this case, they are protected because the way it was used can be classified as a "cover." I'm not positive of all the intricacies of this by-law, but those are some of the basics.

  • Anonymous

    monica sampled it, did she pay?

  • Jaymalls

    Lmao.... That's what his old ass get... I heard Ye offered this money hungry peace of shit musician a few stacks for his 2 grunts but he wanted something in the 6-digit range. That's 1 of the reasons y the joy didn't make MBDTF.... The crazy part is Ye offered this fool the money out the goodness of his heart... He already new he could use it because Cypress Hill won there case against this idiot!

    • Anonymous

      the mother fucker is a legend have some respect for yr elders plain and simple you gotta pay yr dues with out his sounds and other s like hime there would be no hip hop granted he may come off as greedy but this is jayz and kanye were talking bout jayz has be heisting classic for days from album concepts to jacking for beats im just sayin if ya dont want to pay him for the sample dont use that song to make money send it out in a mixtape like everyone else

  • Anonymous

    Jayz still raping people for beats, and lyrics. If Jay paid everyone who ghostwrites for him he'd be broke!! You'd thnk KANYE would not be such a bitch about this, since he cant make a beat w/o a sample!

  • Kema Leslie

    Come on just pay the man for his sample........smh

  • Anonymous

    all this because of a "uugggggggggggh!"

  • Anonymous

    ooooh, someone forgot to register...

  • gwapistol

    Whats 50 grand to a mothafucka like me can you please remind me?

  • David

    No disrespect to you, but It's not a loophole. it's the law. Honestly though, It sucks for those artists that were tied up with copyrights before that date, but at least now the law is in place to stop the confusion. The labels coming out and claiming that the artists were works-for-hire on some of their own songs that were created back in the day, now that's a loophole. Always have proof of ownership of your shit.

    • Anonymous

      It is a loop hole because the law changed in 1972 but the song that was sampled was made before that so would adhere to the old laws.

  • Anonymous

    @jason i kinda agree with u cos they rich and everything but imagine if there was no such thing and soulja boy remade a classic auch as 'i used to love h.e.r' and made it retarded and got it to number 1 haha

    • MalcolmLittle

      I sure hope you weren't talkin about the old school heads bein rich cuz that couldn't be further from the truth, majority of them cats barely received a dime for their work, they were paid off in cars (that were still owned by the label) and other frivolous bullshit that only went down in value as time passed but were very rarely paid in actual money. Far as Jay and Kanye, hell yeah them niggas rich and it wouldn't hurt either ONE of em to break that man off a few thousand to borrow a piece of the song HE created. Syl probably wasn't even askin for much either just enough to feel like he wasn't gettin robbed blind by "The Throne"...neither one of them niggas woulda missed that lil bit of change.



  • jason

    whats with these greedy ass sample attackers. were paying you homage like a director does to another Ya Dumb Fucks!!! you had your hayday shithead.

  • The_truth

    Thats what a million doller lawyer will get you....... loop holes...

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