Add Lil Wayne to the long list of rappers who have been sued for allegedly sampling songs without permission or proper credit. Only on Thursday, Abkco Music Inc., a musical publishing company that owns the rights to the Rolling Stones' classic "Play With Fire," filed suit against Weezy not for using an unauthorized sample, but for what it said was an unauthorized release of an altered version of the song.
According to a Reuters report, the lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, charges copyright infringement and unfair competition and is seeking unspecified damages.
The issue is over a profanity-laced bonus track from Weezy's smash album Tha Carter III, called "Playing With Fire," which does not list any samples in its credits.
In the song's chorus, blues belter Betty Wright growls the line, "But you can't blame me if I set this stage on fire," which has similar wording to the Stones tune's chorus: "But don't play with me/ 'Cause you're playing with fire." Wright sings the line with a different cadence and emphasis than Stones singer Mick Jagger.
Wayne's song begins with Wright singing, "So you've got so many diamonds/ You wear all the finest clothes/ And you grill is shining/ As you're driving down the streets of gold/ But you can't blame me if I set this thing on fire." The Stones version begins with the lines: "Well, you've got your diamonds and you've got your pretty clothes/ And the chauffeur drives your car/ You let everybody know/ But don't play with me/ 'Cause you're playing with fire."
Abkco's suit claims that the Wayne track is a clear derivative of the Stones song with the original music and lyrics altered in a recognizable way. The company also says in the suit that Wayne's version uses "explicit, sexist and offensive language" and might lead the public to believe the company and the Stones approved of and authorized the new version.
A spokesperson for Wayne could not be reached for comment at press time.