J. Dilla ‘Donuts’ sample of a 10cc song subject of a new copyright infringement lawsuit
J. Dilla's massively influential, crate-digging 2006 masterpiece, Donuts, is at the center of a new copyright infringement lawsuit alleging that the album included a sample of 10cc's "The Worst Band in the World" without permission for the track "Workinonit."
According to Pitchfork, the Music Sales Corporation, the company that has an exclusive administration agreement for the song on behalf of publisher Man-Ken Music, Ltd, filed the lawsuit back in March and then amended it in April, and claims “Workinonit” “contains exact or substantially similar copies of multiple quantitatively and qualitatively substantial sections of the Composition,” and that “J Dilla did not seek or obtain a license to use the Composition in any fashion," and nor did Universal Music, E.P.H.C.Y. Publishing and Stones Throw Records who are also named.
Stones Throw released a Donuts box set in 2013 and a cassette in 2014, and the lawsuit claims that they informed the defendants of their concerns over the sample in or around 2014. Stones Throw then released a 10th anniversary edition of Donuts in 2016, and "Workinonit" has since appeared in two 2017 Dave Chappelle comedy specials for Netflix, Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin. The lawsuit claims that "Workinonit" was licensed for the specials after "being informed of its infringing content." Music Sales Corporation state they sent a demand letter to the defendants on July 18, 2017 but “the parties have been unable to reach any resolution, thus requiring the filing of this action.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages from the last three years for the “deliberate, willful, malicious, oppressive” action, as well as compensation for legal costs, and for the defendants to “destroy or deliver up for destruction all materials in Defendants’ possession, custody, or control used by defendants in connection with Defendants’ infringing conduct."