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Kanye West settles Ultralight Beam sample dispute

By | Published on Monday 5 October 2020

Kanye West

In between his political manoeuvrings and those concurrent attempts to rewrite every record contract ever signed, Kanye West has found time to settle a copyright infringement case that has been lingering in the American courts for a while.

West and his business partners were sued last year over a short spoken word recording that appears at the start of ‘Life Of Pablo’ track ‘Ultralight Beam’. That recording features the voice of a young child in prayer with an adult voice responding. It was sampled from an Instagram video uploaded by the child’s mother back in 2016.

West’s people did approach the mother, Alice T Johnson, about sampling the audio from her Instagram post. However, in last year’s lawsuit, the child’s adoptive parents – Andrew and Shirley Green – argued that Johnson didn’t actually have the authority to allow the girl’s voice to be used in the record. And even if she did, paperwork and payment in relation to the sample that were verbally promised to Johnson never materialised.

There were some other side arguments in the case too, most recently involving the Greens hitting out at West over allegations he was doing everything he could to avoid having to provide a deposition in relation to the copyright dispute.

But last week it was confirmed that the litigation was now at an end after an undisclosed settlement agreement was reached. According to Law360, judge Richard M Gergel confirmed on Friday that he had been informed about the settlement. He then ordered both parties in the case to file a petition for court approval of that settlement within 30 days.