The Estate of James Oscar Smith claimed the Nothing Was The Same track illegally used copyrighted material from the jazz musician.
However, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III ruled Drake’s sampling of “Jimmy Smith Rap” falls under the “fair use” doctrine.
Judge Pauley’s decision claimed the purpose of Drake’s use of Smith’s work is “sharply different” from the original and the Cash Money star added “something new.”
He also rejected the Smith Estate’s argument the sample on “Pound Cake” was too long by ruling the length was “reasonable.”
Drake opened “Pound Cake” with an edited sound bite of Smith saying:
Good God Almighty, like back in the old days… You know, years ago they had the A&R men to tell you what to play, how to play it and you know whether it’s disco and rock but we just went in the studio and we did it. We had the champagne in the studio, of course – compliments of the company – and we just laid back and did it. So we hope you enjoy listening to this album half as much as we enjoyed playing it for you. Because we had a ball. Only real music is gonna last, all the other bullsh-t is here today and gone tomorrow.
The liner notes from NWTS credit “Jimmy Smith Rap,” and the judge in the case stated Cash Money obtained all necessary licenses for the recording.