University of Miami Business Law Review

Document Type



The fair use doctrine is an important affirmative defense to copyright infringement when a particular use does not interfere with copyright law’s primary goal of promoting creativity for the public good. Artists and songwriters frequently experiment with copyrighted music without permission before seeking licensing approval from the original rights holders to “sample” or “replay” the work. In Chapman v. Maraj—a copyright infringement suit brought by Tracy Chapman against Nicki Minaj—the United States District Court for the Central District of California held that experimenting with a copyrighted musical composition for the purpose of creating a new work with an intent to seek licensing approval constitutes fair use and thus does not infringe the original copyright holder’s exclusive right to prepare derivative works. This Note explores why the holding in Chapman v. Maraj is vital for the protection of songwriting and the music business as well as the continuation of innovation and creativity in music, analyzing this importance in light of the established goals of copyright law.