Nicki Minaj’s Song-Stealing Case Could Get Costly: “Fighting Will Take Time & Money”

Nicki Minaj’s Song-Stealing Case Could Get Costly: “Fighting Will Take Time & Money”

With buzz about Nicki Minaj being sued over her 2012 “Starships” hit gaining momentum, SOHH reached out to contributor and legal expert Kent Zimmermann for a take on the case.

In Zimmermann’s opinion, Minaj is only left with two real choices in dealing with this potentially messy situation.

“Minaj has a decision to make, which is whether to fight this claim or settle it. Fighting will take time and money,” Kent explained to SOHH via statement. “If she fights, it could very well be a protracted legal battle. Some defendants in her shoes would settle to avoid the nuisance and cost of having to defend the case. If the plaintiff pursues this all the way to trial, which is possible, it could take years of pre-trial discovery, including depositions of Minaj and others. If [plaintiff Clive] Tanaka can prove his case, he stands to win significant money damages, partially because of the commercial success of the song at issue.” (SOHH)

Details of the legal suit turned into a hot topic earlier in the week.

Did Nicki Minaj really steal her summer 2012 hit Starships from someone else? That’s the case if you believe Chicago musician Clive Tanaka, who says Minaj’s summer 2012 mega-hit copies substantial parts of his own 2009 song Neu Chicago. Tanaka filed a lawsuit against Minaj, producer Nadir Khayat — better known as RedOne — and writers Carl Falk, Wayne Hector and Rami Yacoub, claiming copyright infringement, according to The Chicago Tribune. Tanaka says his song already had significant airplay in the United States, as well as hundreds of thousands of streams online, before Starships could have been conceived. (USA Today)

The platintiff’s attorney suggested there is pratically no difference between Minaj’s “Starships” and 2009’s “Neu Chicago.”

Tanaka is described in the Chicago Tribune article as a mysterious figure, albeit an award-winning musician, who has never performed live in public. “We believe they are similar to the point that it is nearly impossible for it to be a coincidence,” Christopher Niro, Tanaka’s attorney, tells the paper about the two songs. (USA Today)

While not as mainstream as Nicki’s anthem, “Neu Chicago” has found its ways onto various online music sites these past few years.

Per the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Illinois District Court by his company Tanaka Light Industries and a copy of which was obtained by E! News, Tanaka claims he created his original composition and recorded it sometime between March 2009 and March 2010, registering it with the copyright office in 2013. Since publishing it in March 2010, “Neu Chicago” has since been distributed through such Internet sites as iTunes, Amazon and other services as well as been used in a TV clothing ad in Sweden among other licensing deals. (E! Online)

To check out more on Kent Zimmerman, visit

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