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Drake Faces Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over Uncleared ‘Calling My Name’ Sample

Taken from | Author: Daniel Kreps | Date: 19 April 2023

Ghanaian artist Obrafour alleges that he never approved sample of his "Oye Ohene (Remix)" before the surprise release of Honestly, Nevermind.

Drake faces a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Ghanaian artist Obrafour that alleges that the rapper’s “Calling My Name” sampled his music without permission.

Elements of Obrafour’s 2003 single “Oye Ohene (Remix)” feature on Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind track; the album — marking Drake’s foray into dance music — was surprise-released on June 17, 2022.

According to the lawsuit, a member of Drake’s team twice sent a “Clearance Email” that would approve the sample to Obrafour in the week before Honestly, Nevermind’s whirlwind release, but that Obrafour “had not yet responded” to either sample clearance email when Drake suddenly dropped his then-new album within hours of announcing it.

“Nonetheless, the Infringing Work is one of the songs appearing on the ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ album, as released to the world by ‘surprise’ on June 17, 2022,” the lawsuit states. “The copying of the Sampled Phrase in the Infringing Work is so direct in nature that the audio of the Sampled Phrase heard in the Infringing Work contains little or no audible manipulation, processing, or other alteration to its original character as heard in the Copyrighted Work.”

While Obrafour still never cleared the sample, “To date, over the mere 304 days that have elapsed since the Infringing Work was released, the Infringing Work has already been streamed over 4.1 million times on YouTube, streamed over 47,442,160 times on Spotify, and streamed tens of millions of times on Apple Music,” the lawsuit notes.

The lawsuit seeks at least $10 million in compensation, citing “all profits and damages in the following categories attributable to the infringement” including album sales, downloads, digital revenue, sponsorships, and concerts that Drake performed following the release of “Calling My Name.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Obrafour’s attorney Imran H. Ansari said, “In 2003, Obrafour, an acclaimed music artist from Ghana, released a popular song called “Oye Ohene (Remix).” Not only is he proud of the creative work that went into his song, but he is also the lawful owner of the copyright behind it, both in Ghana, and here in the United States. Unfortunately, this ownership was not respected by the internationally known music artist Drake, who sampled it directly in one of his recent hits, ‘Calling My Name.’”

Ansari continued, “Drake did so without getting permission from Obrafour to use the song, without giving any credit to Obrafour, and without compensating Obrafour for its use. In fact, mere days before Drake released ‘Calling My Name,’ he tried to secure the rights to use the sample. But rather than waiting to make sure Obrafour gave permission, which Obrafour did not, Drake released the song regardless. Obrafour now seeks the respect, recognition, and compensation he deserves for use of his creative work. He also hopes to send a message to mainstream international artists that you cannot simply take from an artist who may be lesser known, or in another country, without giving credit where credit is due.”

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