Kanye West Sued By Texas Pastor Over Sermon Sample In ‘Donda’ Track

Kanye West Sued By Texas Pastor Over Sermon Sample In ‘Donda’ Track

At Ye’s song “Come to Life”, a pastor shouts “Hallelujah!” Now he is saying “copyright violation.” “

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Ye arrives to the arena for the fight between Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson at State Farm Arena on Oct. 23, 2021 in Atlanta.
Brandon Magnus/GI

A Texas pastor is suing Kanye West for copyright infringement over allegations that the superstar used unauthorized samples of a recorded sermon in one of the songs on “Donda.”

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dallas federal court, Bishop David P. Moten claimed that roughly 20% of Kanye’s “Come to Life” is composed of a sample from one of his sermons, both at the very beginning and again throughout the song.


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“Defendants have extensively sampled portions from the Sermon willfully and without Plaintiff’s consent,” Moten wrote. “Defendants have been guilty of an alarming practice over many years of illegally sampling sound recordings of others without their consent

A small snippet of language used in sermons may seem like it’s fair game. However, federal courts have long held the licensing of even the smallest sound recordings is a requirement. In a seminal 2005 ruling, a federal appeals court put it bluntly: “Get a license, or do not sample.”

In Kanye’s instance, the alleged illegal sampling can be heard at “Come to Life”‘s beginning. A voice says “Hallelujah” and then “Hallelujah” (Thank You Jesus) Hallelujah …”. The clip appears to play softly in background at other times.

“‘Come to Life’ is approximately five minutes and ten seconds (5: 10) in length,” Moten wrote. “Approximately one minute and ten seconds (1: 10) of this sound recording is sampled directly from Plaintiff’s sermon.”

“Come to Life” was only a minor hit as a single, debuting at 77 on the Hot 100 in September and remaining on the chart for just a week. But “Donda” reached the top of the Billboard 200 and the album spent 35 total weeks on the chart.

A representative for Kanye (now legally named Ye) did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

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