Jay Z Wins Copyright Trial Over Egyptian 'Big Pimpin' Sample
Jay Z’s got 99 problems, but an unfavorable verdict in the trial over his hit “Big Pimpin’” ain’t one.
In court Wednesday, judge Christina Snyder found the nephew of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi did not have standing to pursue the claim Jay Z and producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley illicitly sampled his uncle’s song “Khosara Khosara” in the iconic hook of “Big Pimpin’.”
The verdict ended a week-long trial in which the plaintiff, Osama Fahmy, argued the Egyptian concept of “moral rights” applied to Jay Z’s license for “Khosara Khosara” and required the rapper, Timbaland and their record label to get Hamdi’s family’s permission to sample “Khosara Khosara.”
Jay Z and Timbaland responded Fahmy could not invoke Egyptian moral rights over the American license for the song, and when Fahmy signed all rights to “Khosara Khosara” to the Middle Eastern record label Sout El Phan over a decade ago, he lost the standing to pursue the lawsuit.
Snyder told the court yesterday she would decide whether Egyptian law applied and whether Timbaland’s license from EMI was valid. If she decided it did, the question of whether Jay Z and Timbaland infringed would go to the jury.
“Fahmy lacked standing to pursue his claim,” said Snyder in court Wednesday. “In light of that decision, it will not be necessary to submit to the jury whether ‘Big Pimpin’’ infringed ‘Khosara Khosara.”
“I had to hear the testimony of Egyptian law experts in order to reach that decision, she added. She dismissed the jury at about 10:30 a.m.
“We and our clients obviously are very pleased with this decision. The court correctly ruled that the plaintiff had no right to bring this case and cannot pursue any claim of infringement in connection with Big Pimpin’ whatsoever,” said the defendants’ attorney Christine Lepera in a statement.
“After a lengthy litigation, Defendants have been vindicated in their position that they have every right to exploit "Big Pimpin'" wherever they choose, including in records, films and concerts,” added her co-counsel David Steinberg, who represented defendants including Universal Music and Warner Music.
The Hollywood Reporter will update with comment from other counsel.
More to come…