Wyclef Jean on Fugees’ Rendition of “Killing Me Softly” Earning Original Songwriter $8 Million: ‘The Game Is to Own Your Own Copyright’

“We ain’t write [‘Killing Me Softly’], but we performed it and it was amazing,” said Clef at the 45:05 mark up top. “And we made somebody 8 million dollars, right? So that mean that whoever was the composer who wrote it was literally sleeping in his bed, and he made 8 million dollars like that.”

Wyclef continued, “Now look at how big that version is, so that person’s copyright has generated them millions and millions of dollars. So this is the game. Royalties, but bigger than royalties: publishing. The game is to own your own copyright and your own compositions. The game is the power of licensing, dig—your publishing is your real estate. You know how once you invest in real estate, it could be 30 years down from now, you’re still going to get money from that property. You can flip it, do whatever you want to do.”

Wyclef didn’t name Lieberman during the interview. Tragically, her contributions to the original song—inspired by a poem she jotted down after watching “American Pie” singer Don McLean perform at the Troubadour in 1971—had been regularly discredited.

According to the Washington Post, Lieberman didn’t get any songwriting credits nor a cut of the original publishing, which went solely to her former managers, Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. Sadly, Lieberman did not see any of the financial compensation from the song’s renewed life through Roberta Flack’s nor the Fugees’ popular rendition.

“I have been called a liar,” Lieberman told WaPo in 2020. “And it feels terrible. It’s really for my own integrity and for the truth to come out.”