Jazz flutist James W. Newton accused the hip-hop trio of using a sample of his 1978 composition “Choir” in their 1992 song “Pass The Mic” without his full permission. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled last November that it would not review its own dismissal of the case a year earlier, when it decided the short segment in “Pass The Mic” was not distinctive enough to be considered Newton’s work.
A lower court ruled against Newton in 2002.
The Supreme Court justices did not comment on their June 13th decision to let the San Francisco court’s decision stand.
The Beastie Boys paid a license fee for the six-second, three-note sample, but Newton alleged the group violated his copyright by not also obtaining a license for the composition.
A coalition of artists and musicians’ groups filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief in support of Newton after the November decision, urging the Supreme Court to clarify its position on digital sampling and copyrights.