Imagine making $2,000 a day without having to lift a finger. Well, Sting doesn’t have to imagine that because he’s living this wonderful dream thanks to P-Diddy “forgetting” to ask permission for heavily incorporating The Police’s hit “Every Breath You Take” in his 1997 tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., “I’ll Be Missing You.” If Diddy actually asked permission for the sample, he would have probably just had to have paid out 25% of the publishing royalties. Instead, due to copyright law, Sting was able to lay claim to 100% of them.
Nevertheless, Sting wasn’t the only member of The Police, so how did he manage to get 100% of the royalties of “I’ll Be Missing You”? Especially when the part of “Every Breath You Take” was a sample of his band member, Andy Summers’, guitar part. According to Summers “I’ll Be Missing You,” is “the major rip-off of all time” and the whole track is based off of his guitar that Sting sampled. Sting encouraged Summers to make the song his own as long as he kept his hands off of the royalties.
Things escalated when The Police did an interview with Revolver magazine in 2000. It was during this interview that Summers and Stewart Copeland decided that Summers was going to say how he really felt about the “I’ll Be Missing You” situation. When Summers told Sting that he wanted all of the money made off of P-Diddy, Sting poured change on a table saying that was all the money and he’s spent the rest. The rest of the interview went like this:
Copeland: So Sting’s making out like a bank robber here, while Andy and I have gone unrewarded and unloved for our efforts and contributions.
Sting: Life… is… f***ing… tough. Here I am in Tuscany…
Copeland: And don’t we know it! You’re in Tuscany in your palace with wine being poured down your throat and grapes being peeled for you. Sting can you buy me a castle in Italy too? With the proceeds from the longest running hit single in the history of radio? Just a little chateau somewhere?
Sting: We don’t have f***ing chateaus in Italy, they’re called palazzos. I’ll lend you a room.
Sting is making $730,000 a year for making sure his name is the only one on “Every Breath You Take.” He is undoubtedly enjoying the benefits of his friend’s music and he is definitely going to enjoy his time at the palazzos in Italy. Diddy may not have said “please” but Sting sure is thanking him.