Singer Karma Ann Swanepoel and her publishing company filed a lawsuit against Lil Wayne in a Louisiana court on Tuesday (May 27) over samples used on his widely distributed track, “Dying.”
In court documents obtained by TMZ, Urband & Lazar Music Publishing claim that the rapper (real name: Dwayne Carter) is infringing on Karma’s copywritten song “Once” without consent by sampling, performing live and redistributing the aforementioned song.
The lawsuit claims Wayne “has neither given his notice of his intent to obtain a compulsory license nor negotiated a mechanical license” to use the singer’s voice in the chorus of his track.
However, it is stated that the rapper’s label, Cash Money Records, has attempted to license Karma’s track so it may appear on his upcoming Tha Carter III album, but to date has failed to come to an agreement.
“Negotiations are generally treated as confidential, but I will say that Lil Wayne’s label was offering an unreasonably small percentage of the song given how prominently Karma’s song is featured in his song,” Melvin Albritton, the attorney representing Karma and her company, told BallerStatus.com in a statement. “Karma wasn’t asking for much, just a fair share. ”
Karma and Urband & Lazar claim that “Dying” has had a “substantial benefit to [Lil Wayne’s] career,” further noting that it has been streamed over 16 million times via his MySpace page while taking full credit without acknowledging her work.
“I believe Lil Wayne was unwilling to give Karma credit (album credit or otherwise). The whole hook and chorus of his song is actually Karma’s song that has just been distorted. Lil Wayne’s version is very popular — but it wouldn’t exist without Karma’s song,” explained Albritton.
Later in the documents, they claim that Karma’s lyrics and voice have factored heavily into Wayne’s rising success, and the sales of his upcoming album will be due entirely to the inclusion of her voice.
While an amount is not clearly stated, Karma and company are seeking the profits from gross sales of “Dying,” which they estimate to be in excess of $5 million, plus legal fees.
“Lil Wayne knows he doesn’t have a license to use Karma’s song, but he has distributed it anyway. By offering the song on his myspace page, performing it live at concerts and leaking it on mixtapes, Lil’ Wayne has flaunted the copyright laws of this country,” said Albritton. “…We had to file suit now to get Karma the credit she deserves and stop him from further infringing on her work.”
Lil Wayne’s camp did not respond for comment at press time.