Funk legend George Clinton sues the Black Eyed Peas for alleged copyright infringement

black-eyed-peasImage Credit: Tony Lowe/PR PhotosParliament Funkadelic leader George Clinton has filed a copyright lawsuit against each member of the Black Eyed Peas, UMG Recordings, and Cherry Lane Music, accusing them of wrongfully sampling his “(Not Just) Knee Deep” from 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You on two remixes of the will.i.am-produced “Shut Up”: “Shut the Phunk Up Remix” and “Shut Up Remix” from their 2003 Grammy-nominated¬† Elephunk album. The case was filed Dec. 10 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Clinton, whose retro funk has always been a favorite among hip-hop purists, has a heavily sampled catalog. Iconic producer Dr. Dre leaned heavily on Clinton’s classics during his early ’90s G-Funk era when he crafted tracks for Snoop Dogg and 2Pac. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” has been sampled by De La Soul and several other acts in years past. But he denied the Peas’ request to legally clear the sample when a producer for the band allegedly asked.

To date, Clinton says he has not received any royalties from the remixes. Now he is seeking maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement and requests that sales of the infringing songs stop immediately. It’s obvious that they used the sample. How they went about acquiring it is the question here. The Peas’ rep was not available for comment.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • HD

    They steal everything, I’m surprised they make any money after all the royalties. Or is that the issue, they ain’t payin up?

    • LOL

      George should kick all of their a$$e$.

  • Bran

    Yet another lawsuit against the Peas…

    • confidential

      JJ Fad needs sue their asses. They never even gave them credit or acknowledgment when Fergalicious blew up and and how it’s a direct rip of JJ Fad’s “Supersonic”

      • ummmm

        it actually samples AfroRican’s Give It All You Got. way to go smart one

      • JJ

        Actually Fergalicious samples both thats why J.J. Fads names are listed as writers. Do YOUR homework “ummmm”

      • Wendy Running

        Terrible news and DatingSingleNurses was amazing

  • outside agitator

    why can’t rappers make their own music? take away their machines and samplers and they’re nothing. a 3rd grader with a Mac could write the BEP’s “songs”.

    • ries

      what is the attraction to trolling? i just don’t get it.

      • outside agitator

        I just commented on a plagiarism suit against the BEPs. what I said was absolutely true.

      • outside agitators mom

        well you see, outside agitator likes to click on anything Lil Wayne, Kanye West and BEP’s and go on some rant to educate people on what ‘real music’ is for which no real example is given. and for this i am deeply embarrassed and wish i gave a better child to this world

      • outside agitator

        your comment doesn’t address anything I said. the article said the BEPs were being sued for plagiarism and gave other examples of sampling, all by rappers. I just commented on that. no rant. I do think the BEP’s “songs” are mostly machinated with horrible lyrics. if you want an example of real music…try Sam Cooke at The harlem Square Club or A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.

    • erin

      BEP are *not* “rappers”
      Educate yourself about the musical genre before making unintelligent generalizations

      • Staring

        They may have strayed far from their roots to sell more records, but they can still be considered as rappers.

      • erin

        Just because they performed hip-hop music in the ’90s doesn’t mean you have to call what they’re producing now hip-hop. A rapper (or, more correctly, MC) is by definition someone who raps.

      • v

        What are they, Erin? Artists who defy categorization? Pop singers who rap?

      • Staring

        You act as if “rapper” is some dirty word that restricts what they do. While I haven’t heard much of the new album, they have been rapping from Brian Austin Green’s album through The E.N.D.

        So by your definition, I going to keep on considering them to be rappers. Not that they are exclusively rappers by they are ones who rap.

  • Kat

    Their sampling is kind of out of control. I used to tolerate the BEPs and even liked some of their songs, but the way they used “Time of My Life” is ATROCIOUS and I can’t get past it. My tolerance has been broken and I’m just done with them. My tweenage cousins were listening to “The Time” at their house on Thanksgiving and I kept thinking “You have GOT to be f*cking kidding me.”

    • Dee Jones

      I agree about that `The Time` song. A piece of Sh….. Yet their songs just zoom up the charts. Unbelievable!

    • one

      Have you heard “Pump It”? They lifted the entire song sans rapping from Dick Dale’s Misirlou. The ENTIRE thing. People think the song is so catchy and great but don’t realize they didn’t do a single thing except slap on some cheesy rap lyrics.

  • erin

    I love how GC allows real musicians like Dre and De La Soul use his stuff no problem, but when some hacks like BEP want to, he shuts them down. Beautiful.

  • anya

    They did this again? Have they created ANY original music since 2002?

    • Stef

      I don’t think so! They just take popular tracks and spell words (often incorrectly) over them.

  • Scott

    That band sucks anyways.

  • g8rfan94

    But will.i.am has a cool ass name and a pretty cool voice when he just sings

  • More Peas Please

    The BEP’s headlined the Oracle convention! That defines the market of their music!

  • Klyph

    The sad thing is BEP started off as a promising Hip Hop group in the tru-school vein. Their first album is great…..then they added Fergie, went pop, went horribly pop and then went atrociously pop.

  • jasper

    Now, I agree with the suit. However, this song is like 6-7 years old? Why wait so long to sue?

  • golan ben simon

    i love your saund i wish to do your trek remix http//www.myspace.com/vibexgolan

  • LadyJNewYork

    Good for George Clinton, pay up will.I.am!!! Don’t really care for BlackEyedPeas too cartoonish for me, I’ll be going to the store for wine cooler when they perform during the superbowl half time show, LOL….

  • Brent

    I hate it when musicians decide to randomly sue other musicians in these cases YEARS (in this case 7) after the song came out, and in this case, it was a song I’ve never even heard of. Obviously George Clinton needs the money or something, why else would he wait so long to sue?

  • Tomas

    That’s right, George! Sue their asses! I mean, their song “Boom Boom Pow” has the exact same melody as a song by an unknown band, and their whole “Time of My life” song is the most atrocious thing I have ever heard, and that includes all the crap that Sarah Palin comes out with!

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