A federal judge on Monday allowed a hip-hop magazine to publish CDs containing limited excerpts of a previously unreleased recording by rapper Eminem that includes racially charged lyrics like “black girls are dumb.”
U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Lynch authorized The Source magazine, which has recently been instigating attacks against Eminem, to publish up to 20 seconds of material from two Eminem recordings. The magazine said it would enclose the CDs in its next issue.
The judge said limited reproduction of the recording falls within the magazine’s right to “fair use” of copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism.
The Source has a rate base of 500,000 copies and claims a readership of several million. It held a news conference last month to publicize its discovery of the recording and to accuse Eminem, who is white, of racism. The Source said it exposed the recording while investigating forces that corrupt hip-hop music.
Source co-founder Raymond Scott, who also is a rapper, has released several recordings attacking Eminem, who responded in kind. The magazine also published a poster of Scott holding Eminem’s severed head.
At the news conference, The Source said the recording included the lyrics “Black girls are dumb, and white girls are good chicks.” It said three white former friends of Eminem had provided the recording to the magazine.
Eminem, 31, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, has said the recording was “foolishness” that he made as a teenager “out of anger, stupidity and frustration” after breaking up with a black girlfriend.
Last week, the same federal judge granted Eminem’s lawyers a temporary restraining order preventing the magazine from distributing the CDs.
A lawyer for The Source said the CDs would go out in the magazine’s February issue, which hits newsstands Jan. 12. A spokeswoman said the magazine considered the ruling a victory but declined to comment further.
A lawyer for Eminem, Donald N. David, also said the judge made the right call. The Source had lobbied the judge for permission to publish much larger excerpts.
“I don’t seek to prevent anyone from engaging in public discussion in a public forum,” David told The Associated Press after the judge’s decision. “They just can’t steal.”
While the two sides dispute the length of the recording, they agree that 20 seconds is an extremely limited segment. One of the two tracks lasts more than five minutes.
The judge said he would allow the magazine to reprint up to eight lines from the recording. It was unclear how many lines were in the two tracks.
Lawyers for Eminem wanted the reproduction rights to be limited to 10 seconds and five lines. Lawyers for the magazine asked the judge for 40 seconds and 10 lines.