Does Diddy Pay Sting $5,000 USD Every Single Day For Sampling Him Without Permission?
— Updated on 8 April 2023

Does Diddy Pay Sting $5,000 USD Every Single Day For Sampling Him Without Permission?

— Updated on 8 April 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

UPDATE [08/05/2023]: After a confirmation tweet by Diddy indicating that he does indeed have to pay Sting $5,000 a day, the rapper has now revealed on social media that the whole thing was a joke. As reported on Page Six, Diddy kept the joke going for a day or two while various publications reported on the lucrative copyright case.

Yet it turns out Diddy was just being “facetious” after the Sting interview, detailed below, resurfaced. Chalk this up to another case of the media, us included, foolishly acting fast on a social media post.

Original ArticleDiddy Has To Pay Sting $5,000 USD Every Single Day For Sampling Him Without Permission

Music royalties. It can be a complicated concept to get around, especially when it comes to an art form like hip hop, where sampling other recorded music is commonplace. Numerous lawsuits pop up every year surrounding the issue of sampling and many of them result in hefty fees having to be paid by the producer to the artist they sampled.

Yet, we’ve never seen a case as lucrative as this one. That is, the settled copyright dispute between now-friends Sean “Diddy” Combs and Sting.

Back in 1997, when the man was still going by the stage name Puff Daddy, Combs sampled Sting’s signature song, ‘Every Breathe You Take’ on Biggie tribute track ‘I’ll Be Missing You,’ which he put out featuring Big’s widow Faith Evans and R&B foursome 112. Although rather than do everything by the book, Puffy seemingly neglected to ask for permission before sampling the original, which Sting recorded with his former band The Police in the early 80s.

Reportedly, Diddy waited until after his hit song, which topped the US Billboard charts for 11 weeks, to ask Sting’s team if he could use the song. It’s now known that Sting sued “shortly after” and the matter was settled quickly. After all, it’s a fairly open-and-shut case as far as copyright law goes.

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In 2018, Sting was asked about the matter by The Breakfast Club, to which he revealed that the result worked out very well for the legendary singer. Diddy’s mistake resulted in the hip hop mogul having to pay Sting US$5,000 (AU$7,487) every single day, presumably for “the rest of his life.”

Sting didn’t mention when the sampling dispute was settled but ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ was released in 1997. Assuming Sting’s “shortly after” comment means the case sprung up in the same year, that means Diddy has been paying Sting over $7,000 each and every single day for over 25 years (1998 – 2023), which translates to 9,125 days. That’s over $63,875,000.

Diddy confirmed this in response to the resurfaced Sting interview, which is currently doing the rounds on Twitter.

Despite the generational debt Diddy has found himself in, it seems both artists have formed a close friendship as a result, with Sting noting that they are “very good friends.”

Although unconfirmed, it’s assumed Universal Music Publishing, which purchased most of Sting’s catalogue for US$350 million (AU$524 million) last year gets at least a cut of Diddy’s repayments as well. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but it’s likely Sting still owns some of his own publishing.

Interestingly enough, the other members of The Police, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers, don’t get a single dime for the deal. This is despite the fact that it’s Summers’ immortal guitar riff that is the sole element from ‘Every Breathe You Take’ that was actually sampled. And while Sting and his heirs will keep receiving royalties until at least 2053, no one from Summers family will receive royalties.

2053 marks 56 years since ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ came out. That’s 20,454 days. You do the math.

In a 2000 interview with Revolver, Copeland spoke on the issue, stating that Sting was “making out like a bank robber here, while Andy and I have gone unrewarded and unloved for our efforts and contributions”.

In 2010, Sting’s former business manager claimed that the whole thing is responsible for more than 25% of all of Sting’s lifetime publishing income. No wonder The Police broke up.

Last year Forbes listed Diddy’s net worth as US$1 billion (AU$1.4 billion). According to Celebrity Net Worth, Sting is worth just over half that at US$550 million (AU$823.5 million).

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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