Posted by: chrisforde915 | November 13, 2014

Captain Copyright Saves the Day!!!


Peter Pankey better known as “Peter Gunz” is an american hip hop artist from the Bronx, New York who garnered much success in the 1990’s era of rap. In 1998 Peter released a joint album with fellow Bronx native Sean Hamilton “Lord Tariq” and the duo’s lead single “Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)” quickly became a fan favorite. Climbing the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #9, earning a platinum record, and grossing over one million dollars in sales, the Bronx rappers financial future seemed promising.

However, it turned out that the highly favored hit with it’s old school vibe and catchy hook owed much of its success due to using a sample of Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” . A sample that was used without going through the proper legal channels to secure Steely’s permission. This led to Steely taking legal action for copyright infringement which he was awarded a six figure settlement ($105,000). Peter and Tariq lost all of their publishing rights and 90% of royalties for the song which were awarded to Steely.

Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq’s fame was short lived following the lawsuit. The group was dismantled and no other albums were released. Their hit song Deja Vu continues to live on earning them respect from hip hop fans, while Steely Dan continues to collect big checks from royalties.


  1. You bring to attention an area of study I find highly interesting, that is sampling in the recording industry, which brings to mind a similar case. Arguably the most cited case I can think of is Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. aka 2 Live Crew vs. The Man.

    In brief, 2 Live Crew sampled a loop from Roy Orbison’s ‘Oh, Pretty Women,’ added to the instrumentals, and published a parody called ‘Pretty Women.’

    The manager of the 2 Live Crew originally asked for a license to use said sample for the label refused, so 2 Live Crew used it anyways #nfg

    Long story short, their defense stood on the foundation of fair use under the guise of parody, which the courts originally agreed to, though it was later reversed when it was argued that they had taken the ‘heart’ of the original and made it the ‘heart’ of their own *in addition to* the commercial nature of the groups’ final product.

    Key themes to the case point to how transformative the new work is and how said material is being commercialized (or lack thereof). The case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed fee.

  2. Peter Gunz and Lord Tariq’s case is classic for both song and epitome of what hip-hop has gone through to sample music. It never mattered before when DJs and MCs would collaborate and perform samples live. To this day, songs and beats can be sampled by anyone so long as credit is given to the proper individuals and is not used for profit. That is why so many rap artists create free mixtapes with beat from established, for-profit rappers.

    Dating farther back than the 90’s classic, the Sugar Hill Gang went through the same deal. Admittedly, I love Comedy Central’s Drunk History and they covered how Sylvia Robinson put the group together and made the album. Everyone should know “Rapper’s Delight,” but everyone should also know that it was the first song to ever sample other music. They took the beat from Chic’s “Good Times” and were later sued for doing so. The first sample and the first law suit in hip hop history.

  3. Speaking of Sugar Hill Gang, shoot, pretty much the entire verse by Big Bank Hank was stolen verbatim from Grandmaster Caz.

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