Kanye West Settled $2.5 Million 'New Slaves' Suit Ahead of Deposition

After Kanye West was named in a $2.5 million dollar-plus copyright infringement in connection with his 2013 song, “New Slaves” in May, the rapper and Hungarian composer Gabor Presser have managed to resolve the lawsuit. According to Presser’s lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District Court of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, on Friday, the rapper “knowingly and intentionally misappropriated” one of Presser’s songs for the “Yeezus” track by using it without obtaining authorization from the composer. 

According to the suit, “New Slaves” heavily samples Presser’s 1969 composition “Gyongyhaju Lany,” which is “one of the most beloved pop songs ever in Hungary and across Eastern Europe,” but Presser was not made aware until after the song was used in a promotion for the 2013 album. The suit also alleges that Presser has not been paid for the past two years for his song’s use, aside from a $10,000 “advance” check from West's team, which is currently being held by Presser's attorneys.

While the terms of the parties’ settlement are confidential, the deal, which was almost certainly influenced by the date of West’s upcoming deposition, likely includes a financial component paid from West to Presser. It is not terribly uncommon for parties to pay up to avoid 1) having to be grilled under oath, either by way of a deposition or on the stand during trial, and 2) to avoid going to trial. West’s settlement allows him to avoid both.

The parties had previously battled over West's deposition, with the rapper's lawyers arguing that the deposition, which was originally scheduled to take place in New York, where the lawsuit was filed (as opposed to Los Angeles where West resides), was "pure harassment, a tactic designed to extract settlement leverage and for no other purpose." 

In an attempt to get West out traveling to New York for the deposition, the rapper's team filed a request in February, stating: “This case revolves largely around whether an enforceable license exists between the parties – and Mr. West had no personal involvement in any of those negotiations and is not copied on the relevant emails. Any minimal knowledge Mr. West has relevant to this case can be ascertained quickly by a video deposition to the extent that plaintiff’s counsel does not wish to travel to where Mr. West resides.”

In response, Presser's counsel said at the time, “It is respectfully submitted that the law applies even to Kanye West."