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Chance The Rapper Sued For Allegedly Using Song Without Permission On '10 Day' Track

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 12, 2017 10:15PM

Chance the Rapper performs at Lollapalooza, 2017 / Photo: Annie Lesser

A New York composer and jazz musician is suing Chance the Rapper for copyright infringement, alleging that the Chatham native used the artist's work in the song "Windows" without permission. The track is from Chance's 2012 debut mixtape 10 Day.

The lawsuit—which was filed on Tuesday by Abdul Wali Muhammad (formerly known as Eric P. Saunders)—alleges that Chance sampled without clearance "a significant portion" of the plaintiff's 1979 song "Bridge Through Time."

"This Complaint seeks damages from Chance, and from his company established to license Chance’s merchandise and to promote Chance’s concerts and other performances, for Chance’s blatant and willful infringement of Muhammad’s copyright," the lawsuit reads.

The suit references two examples of "Bridge Through Time." One is a recording by Lonnie Liston Smith, released in 1980. You can listen below, then compare to Chance's "Windows" and draw your own conclusions.

You might be thinking, wait, "Windows" was on a free mixtape, so how exactly did Chance profit from the song he gave away? According to the lawsuit, "The song 'Windows' was popular and helped to elevate Chance’s career, which in turn spawned concerts, concert sales, sales of merchandise and other sources of revenue." It alleges willful infringement, which runs $150,000 in damages for each violated work, Chicago lawyer Caroline "Coco" Soodek told Crain's. "Lawsuits are, in some way, the cost of success," she added.

Muhammad is a jazz musician, composer and lawyer whose musical collaborators include Tah Mahal, Donny Hathaway and Peter Tosh, among others, the lawsuit states.

The AV Club points out that samples of the "Bridge Through Time" are also included Big K.R.I.T.’s “Down And Out” and “We Roll Deep” by The Conscious Daughters. That jibes with the song's Who Sampled page—which also cites "Windows."

The lawsuit was first reported by the Sun-Times. We've reached out to Chance's management and will update if we receive comment. You can read the full 8-page suit here, as uploaded by Crain's.