Remember R&B artist Prince Phillip Mitchell? The Louisville native is a long-time singer-songwriter who reached his height of popularity in the 1970s. He wrote and recorded several songs, including Star in the Ghetto, which appeared on his 1978 album Make it Good.
Fast forward ten years to 1988, when rap group N.W.A. released its debut album, Straight Outta Compton, produced in large part by Andre Romelle Young—known to us as Dr. Dre. This album contained Dr. Dre’s rap tune, If It Ain’t Ruff.
Fast forward thirty years to 2018, where Mitchell claims in a Kentucky federal court that, in writing, producing, and publishing If It Ain’t Ruff, Dr. Dre “unlawfully and intentionally sampled the distinctive and important elements” from Star in the Ghetto, and therefore infringed on his copyright. You may read the complaint here, and Insider Louisville’s story about the case here.
Let’s get to the privilege issue; after all, this is a privileges blog and not a 1970s R&B blog (though that would be more fun).