The Song: Biz Markie “Alone Again” (1990)
The Plaintiff: Gilbert O’Sullivan
The Case: Beloved Brooklyn MC Biz Markie’s star was on the wane after his third album I Need a Haircut failed to produce a hit on the level of his previous records break-out single “Just A Friend.” Things got worse when forgotten ‘70s soft rocker Gilbert O’Sullivan sued him for the album track “Alone Again”’s unauthorized sample of O’Sullivan’s 1971 #1 hit “Alone Again (Naturally).”
The Judgment: In a landmark decision the courts ruled in the plaintiffs favor, establishing forever after that all samples must be preapproved by the original copyright owners before being released. As for Biz Markie his label Cold Cold Chillin’ Records had to pull the album from shelves but he bounced back with his next record, the cheekily titled All Samples Cleared!.