Donna Summer Estate Sues Kanye West Over Vultures 1 Song


Bruce Sudano, the second husband of Donna Summer and the executor of the late singer’s estate, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign, alleging that the musicians used Summer’s “I Feel Love” without permission for their ¥$ song “Good (Don’t Die).”

Sudano filed his lawsuit in a California federal court today (February 27). He names West, Ty Dolla $ign, Yeezy Record Label, LLC, the company Yzy Snd, and 10 Does as defendants.

In the complaint, Sudano alleges that, in January, an entity called Alien Music, on behalf of West and Ty Dolla $ign, reached out to Donna Summer’s estate to confirm its ownership of the “I Feel Love” composition and request permission for sampling. “In considering Defendants’ request, the Summer Estate not only considered the immense commercial value of the ‘I FEEL LOVE’ composition, but also the potential degradation to Summer’s legacy,” the complaint reads. “West is known as a controversial public figure whose conduct has led numerous brands and business partners to disassociate from him.”

Sudano claims that the estate denied the clearance request in early February, writing to the musicians’ representatives “that this denial meant an ‘absolute prohibition against any licensee (or other recording artist) covering I FEEL LOVE from using a Donna Summer “soundalike”, or using the original Donna Summer recording.’” After being denied by the estate, Sudano alleges, West and Ty Dolla $ign went to Summer’s record label, Universal Music Enterprises, for sampling permission, but the label also denied the artists’ request.

Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign released Vultures 1 in the early hours of February 10. In its original form, the album included “Good (Don’t Die),” a song that appeared to sample Summer’s “I Feel Love.” According to the complaint, it was not a sample, but “an unauthorized interpolation.” Sudano and his lawyers argue:

In the face of these repeated denials, West and Co-Defendants attempted to get around this roadblock by instead making an unauthorized interpolation. West and his Co-Defendants used the song’s iconic melody as the hook for their infringing song and essentially re-recorded almost verbatim key, instantly recognizable portions of “I FEEL LOVE” using a singer soundalike to Summer, with slight changes to the lyrics (also done without permission).

As of publication, “Good (Don’t Die)” is largely unavailable to stream, as it has been removed from most major digital streaming platforms at the request of Summer’s estate.

When reached by Pitchfork, one of Sudano’s attorneys, Stanton “Larry” Stein, offered no comment. Pitchfork has also reached out to a publicist who has worked with West and Ty Dolla $ign on the Vultures 1 campaign.