Sunday would not be Sunday without a moral conundrum.
Famed rapper and all-around tech businessman 50 Cent is being sued by Robert Poindexter of the R&B band The Persuaders for allegedly sampling one of his band's tracks and then not paying for the sample.
It was TMZ that first espied the legal papers.They reportedly refer to the rapper as "50 Cents."
The song in question, "Love Gonna Pack Up And Walk Out," was allegedly sampled on a 2009 track called "Redrum" and then included on a mixtape called "War Drum" that 50 Cent posted online for free.
This appears to be the crux of the rapper's legal contention: he didn't make any money out of it.
The legal papers reportedly describe this contention as "frivolous and immaterial." Poindexter is demanding $600,000 in punitive damages, as well as statutory damages of an unexpressed amount.
I am sure there are lawyers who will argue that, regardless of whether the track was posted for free, it was intended to bolster 50 Cent's commercial reputation and therefore had some value. The mere fact of mass distribution suggests a commercial purpose.
On the other hand, perhaps 50 Cent's lawyers might claim that the Persuaders' track is unrecognizable to the average listener. The laws around sampling are pleasantly complex in their nuances, as sites Nolo.com and Music Law point out.
But it's the permission thing, too, isn't it? No one likes to see their work being used without courtesy. People get annoyed. It is unclear, though, why it has taken three years to get sufficiently annoyed to sue.
I have embedded both songs below for your delectation. I wonder just how far this case might go, or whether a sensible settlement might be reached, should there actually be one.