Jay Z and Timbaland have won a lawsuit alleging that they infringed on the rights to a sample used in the former’s 2000 hit “Big Pimpin’.” A judge ruled Wednesday that the nephew of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, whose “Khosara, Khosara” birthed the hip-hop tune’s funky flute hook, did not have standing to pursue his claim against the rapper and producer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The composer’s relative, Osama Fahmy, claimed the musicians had continued to distribute the song without regard for Egypt’s moral rights laws.
“Fahmy lacked standing to pursue his claim,” Judge Christina Snyder ruled. “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.”
The composer’s nephew filed the lawsuit in 2007. Although Timbaland, who used the hook believing it to be public domain, paid $100,000 to EMI when he learned that the hook originated in the tune – itself a song in the 1960 Egyptian film Fata ahlami – to continue using it, Fahmy sued the producer, rapper and several other associated music companies for violating moral rights. Those rights govern how a work can be altered with respect to an author, who, in this case, died in 1993.
Jay Z and Timbaland’s lawyers claimed that Fahmy gave up his rights in 2002 when he sold the rights to the tune to record label Sout El Phan, causing him to lose his standing in this suit. The matter went to trial on October 13th, and Judge Snyder ultimately agreed with the latter claim.
The defense attorneys representing Jay Z and Timbaland were, as expected, happy with the decision, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “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,” lawyer Christine Lepera said in a statement.
Attorney David Steinberg, who represented Universal Music and Warner Music, expressed similar satisfaction. “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,” he said.