Kanye And Jay-Z Hit Back At Watch The Throne Lawsuit

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December 19, 2011 | 8:45pm EST

Kanye West and Jay-Z have responded to a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against them by Syl Johnson, questioning whether the veteran soul star’s work is actually protected by law.
Johnson filed suit against the duo in October after hearing his song Different Strokes sampled on their track The Joy, from the deluxe version of their joint album Watch the Throne.

He claims representatives for West had initially approached him for permission to use the old tune on a track for his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but the request was not approved in time for its release. It subsequently appeared on West’s recent collaborative disc with Jay-Z reportedly without Johnson’s knowledge – and the singer is demanding compensation for knowing and wilful misappropriation.

West and Jay-Z filed papers in response to the suit on Thursday, and although they have stopped short of admitting to using Johnson’s composition, they have challenged his legal standing, as Different Strokes was made in 1967 – and sound recordings were only automatically protected by federal copyright laws from 1972.

The legal documents state: “Any claim based on the alleged use of Plaintiffs’ recording is barred because, inter alia (among other things), (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 (insignificant).”

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