Kanye West won the copyright lawsuit, in which he was accused by an aspiring rapper of lifting portions of his song “Stronger.” Despite the obvious similarities, Kanye used the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to make his case.
Rapper Vincent Peters sent a copy of his version of “Stronger” to Kanye’s business manager John Monopoly and later played the record for him. According to court papers, “Monopoly was apparently impressed and agreed to be Vince P’s producer, so long as Vince P was funded by a record label. That funding never materialized, unfortunately, and so the proposed collaboration foundered.”
A year later, in 2007, Peters heard Kanye West’s song of the same name with a similar chorus.
Peters’ Chorus: “What don’t kill me/ make me stronger / The more I blow up / The more you wronger / You copped my CD/ You can feel my hunger / The wait is over/ Couldn’t wait no longer…”
West’s Chorus: N-N-N-now th-th-that don’t kill me / Can only make me stronger / I need you to hurry up now / ‘Cause I can’t wait much longer / I know I got to be right now / ‘Cause I can’t get much wronger / Man, I’ve been waitin’ all night now / That’s how long I’ve been on ya
While the chorus’ do appear to be similar–and there was also a reference to Kate Moss in both songs–the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with West, who said he used Nietzsche for inspiration, not Peters.
Judge Diane Wood brushed away Peters’ accusations, citing Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” as evidence that Nietzsche’s influence goes beyond both artists.
“Notably, an even more recent popular song—one that held the top spot in the Billboard Hot 100 chart at about the same time as oral argument in this case—also shares this key feature with both West’s and Vince P’s songs,” Judge Wood said in her opinion. “Although the fact that both songs quote from a 19th century German philosopher might, at first blush, seem to be an unusual coincidence, West correctly notes that the aphorism has been repeatedly invoked in song lyrics over the past century.”
See the ruling for yourself here. —Erik Parker, CBS Local