The copyright lawsuit that alleged Jay Z‘s “Run This Town” sampled Eddie Bo’s “Hook & Sling Part 1” without permission has been dismissed. The lawsuit, brought forth by TufAmerica, boiled down to how a sampled “Oh!” was utilized in “Run This Town,” and in the end, the judge decided one little syllable didn’t constitute copyright infringement, the New York Times reports.
“‘Run This Town’ bears very little and perhaps no similarity at all to ‘Hook & Sling Part 1.’ The melody and lyrics are entirely different. The lyrics do not contain the word ‘oh,'” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his statement, adding that the “Oh!” was only used in the background “in such a way as to be audible and aurally intelligible only to the most attentive and capable listener.” Kaplan added, “The word ‘oh’ is a single and commonplace word. Standing alone, it likely is not deserving of copyright protection.”
TufAmerica is a copyright administration company that specializes in acquiring the rights of frequently sampled tracks and filing lawsuits on behalf of the original artist (although in this case, Bo passed away in 2009). The label has also pursued legal action against the Beastie Boys, Frank Ocean (over “Super Rich Kids”) and Christina Aguilera. TufAmerica similarly sued Kanye West in 2012 for using a sample of “Hook & Sling Part 1” on a pair of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy tracks, “Lost in the World” and “Who Will Survive in America?” According to the New York Times, that suit was settled out of court.
In 2012, TufAmerica attempted to sue the Beastie Boys – in an unfortunately timed lawsuit filed one day before Adam Yauch passed away – after the group’s sample-heavy Paul’s Boutique used pieces of Trouble Funk’s “Say What” and “Let’s Get Small” without permission. However, the suit was dismissed when a court determined that Trouble Funk had already sold the songs to Island Records in 1984, voiding TufAmerica’s acquisition of those tracks.