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Syl Johnson sues Kanye West, Jay-Z for copyright infringement

Syl Johnson has sued Jay-Z and Kanye West for copyright infringement over their new track, “The Joy,” which he says contains a sample from his 1967 song, “Different Strokes,” that they did not seek permission to use. The song with the sample appears on the hip hop artists’ new collaborative effort, “Watch the Throne.”

The R&B/soul singer apparently is known for aggressively protecting his intellectual property rights, which is his right. Johnson owns the rights to his own artistic material, and rights to use copyrighted material must be secured before selling someone else’s intellectual property. 

Johnson is a renowned and often-sampled artist with samples used by artists including Wu-Tang Clan, Michael Jackson and Kid Rock. According to a recent article about the possibly impending litigation on, Johnson heard about the use of his copyrighted material and reached out to the legal department of Def Jam.

Apparently, the song was supposed to be included on West’s, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but the sample could not be cleared in time for use on the album. The song was not for sale apparently. The song containing the sample, however, was released as a bonus track anyway on the new collaborative effort.

Syl Johnson is not likely to let this breach slide and will fight to be compensated for the infringement of his intellectual property. The album has already sold more than 600,000 copies. Johnson will likely either be awarded a settlement or be compensated after filing a lawsuit against the record label.

Source:, “Jay-Z, Kanye West Accused Of Copyright Infringement,” Alvin Blanco, Aug. 24, 2011

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