Complaint claims that song “Different Strokes” was improperly sampled by dozens of artists
Usher, Mark Wahlberg and Run-D.M.C. are among a slew of musicians who are being sued in a sprawling lawsuit claiming that dozens of artists infringed on a song by sampling it without authorization.
In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois on Tuesday, Twilight Records and Syl-Zel Music claim that the above defendants and others sampled “Different Strokes,” which was sung and recorded by Sylvester Thompson, a/k/a Syl Johnson, in 1967, and later in a derivative version.
According to the suit, Usher infringed on “Different Strokes” with his 1993 song “Call Me a Mack,” while Public Enemy made use of the tune on multiple songs, including “Fight the Power” and “Fear of a Black Planet.”
Wahlberg, meanwhile, is allegedly in hot water for his tenure in the much-missed Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, whose “The Last Song on Side B” made unauthorized use of the song, according to the suit. (Yes, his brother Donnie is also named as a defendant.)
Run-D.M.C., meanwhile, allegedly sinned by using “Different Strokes” in their tunes “Naughty” and “Beats to the Rhyme.”
A number of record labels, including Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, are also named in the suit for contributory copyright infringement.
The complaint seeks accounting, along with a permanent restraint against sampling the song, along with unspecified damages.
This isn't the first time that “Different Strokes” has sparked a lawsuit. In 2011, Johnson sued Kanye West and Jay-Z, claiming that the song was improperly sampled on that pair's album “Watch the Throne.” That suit was later settled.
Listen to “Different Strokes” below:
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.