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Rapper Wins Lawsuit Over Black Eyed Peas Sample

A settlement has been reached in yet another Black Eyed Peas copyright lawsuit. Cleveland DJ Orrin Lynn Tolliver, Jr., has successfully sued for his share of the royalties from the improper sampling of his 1982 rap song, ‘I Need a Freak,’ which was improperly used on Black Eyed Peas’ 2005 smash single, ‘My Humps.’

The song was recorded by Tolliver and his concept band Sexual Harassment while at friend and collaborator James McCants’ Heat Records recording studio. It was registered by McCants with performing rights organization BMI, crediting Tolliver as songwriter under the pseudonym David Payton, for which Tolliver was entitled to 75 percent of the song’s royalties.

Unbeknownst to Tolliver, McCants then negotiated with Montage Records to release Sexual Harassment’s 1983 album, ‘I Need a Freak,’ which sold 100,000 copies. When ‘I Need a Freak’ was covered by Too Short on Priority Records’ ‘In Tha Beginning… There Was Rap’ compilation in 2000, Tolliver sent McCants a cease-and-desist order, but his former friend denied issuing the label a license for the usage of the composition.

McCants continued to deny involvement in the licensing of the song for various compilations over the next five years, but when Tolliver recognized his song as the key sample on ‘My Humps’ in 2005, he finally filed suit for copyright infringement.

McCants changed his defense several times during the course of the trial, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in December, 2005, at first denying that he had issued a license, asserting that the song was not sampled by the Black Eyed Peas, then claiming co-writer credit on the composition and ownership under the work-for-hire doctrine.

Despite allowing McCants a 2009 motion for reconsideration after the first verdict was reached against him, the judge ultimately ruled in Tolliver’s favor, and the jury has finally determined that McCants is required to pay Tolliver nearly $1.2 million in profits and damages.

While The Black Eyed Peas were not named in the determination, they are currently facing two similar copyright infringement charges for their songs ‘Boom Boom Pow’ and ‘I’ve Got a Feeling.’

A similar suit was filed by Tolliver in Ohio Northern District Court on April 1, 2011.

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