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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Rappers cleared in copyright case
Ludacris outside court in New York
Rapper and actor Ludacris said he fought for "what I believe in"
US rappers Kanye West and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges have been cleared of stealing another act's music.

New Jersey group IOF claimed the stars lifted beats and lyrics from one of their songs for the 2003 hit Stand Up.

The jury reached their verdict after less than a day of deliberations in the two-week copyright trial in New York.

IOF's manager Jeff Billingsley said the group would appeal. "Probably Ludacris feels good that he got over this, but he has not gotten away," he said.

Lawyers for Ludacris and West - who both testified during the case - said they had not heard the IOF song until the case was filed.

Kanye West performs outdoors
Kanye West co-produced the number one single Stand Up
They said similar rhythms and chorus words "like that" were not original to IOF.

The IOF song, Straight Like That, was not a hit and only received airplay on a handful of college radio stations in 2001.

Stand Up was released in autumn 2003 on Ludacris' album Chicken and Beer and became a number one hit in the US.

Speaking outside the court after the verdict, Ludacris said: "I hope the plaintiffs enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame.

"This whole experience is proof to me of why I will always fight for what I believe in."

Music expert

West, who co-produced Stand Up, was not in court to hear the verdict.

When he gave evidence last week, he said he had sympathy for the New Jersey group.

"It's like that glimmer of hope," he said. "You're this close. I've been in those shoes. It's hard to make it in this game. I understand why they would sue."

IOF's lawyer Mel Sachs said they would appeal on the grounds that a music expert they had planned to call as a witness was excluded by the judge.

The move was part of sanctions against another lawyer who represented them before.

"The verdict was disappointing but understandable in the wake of this order to preclude the plaintiffs' expert in the case," he said.

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