Jay-Z wins “Big Pimpin” copyright infringement trial

Federal court dismisses copyright violation case against Jay-Z who was accused of using Egyptian songwriter’s melody without permission

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a copyright infringement lawsuit that accused rapper Jay Z and hip hop producer Timbaland of using an Egyptian musician's melody without permission in their 1999 hit song "Big Pimpin'."

US District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that the plaintiff in the case, a nephew of late musician Baligh Hamdy, did not have standing to assert copyright infringement of his uncle's music, Jay Z's attorney Andrew Bart said.

Hamdy's nephew, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, filed a complaint in 2007 alleging that Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and his team had used his uncle's 1957 song "Khosara, Khosara" without permission.

"Our client is pleased with and feels vindicated by the decision," Bart said in a statement.

Snyder's decision came after three days of trial testimony.

"We disagree strongly with the ruling and intend to appeal," Keith Wesley, a lawyer representing Fahmy, said in a statement.

Jay Z testified at the trial last week, telling the eight-member jury that acquiring rights to songs was not his responsibility.

Hip hop producer Tim 'Timbaland' Mosley said he believed Hamdy's track was license free, but once he learned of the complaint, he paid $100,000 to EMI Music Arabia to acquire the rights.

Attorney Peter Ross, representing Fahmy, had told the jury that Jay Z and his producers purposefully avoided asking for permission to use Hamdy's melody.

But attorney Christine Lepera, representing Timbaland and other defendants named in the complaint including Vivendi's Universal Music Group and Viacom Inc's MTV, said the court ruling was clear.

"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," Lepera said in a statement.