Jay Z ruled not liable in copyright trial over Egyptian ‘Big Pimpin” sample

Case won't be seen by a jury

A US district judge has ruled that Jay Z isn’t liable for an uncleared sample used in his 1999 Timbaland-produced hit single ‘Big Pimpin”.

Judge Christina Snyder earlier today (October 21) found that the nephew of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi – whose 1957 song ‘Khosara Khosara’ is partially used in ‘Big Pimpin” – did not have legal standing to pursue the claim that Jay (real name Sean Carter) and Timbaland (Timothy Mosley) illicitly sampled the track.

As pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter, Osama Fahmy signed all rights to ‘Khosara Khosara’ over to Middle Eastern record company Sout El Phan back in 2002. The firm then licensed the song to EMI Arabia for use outside of Egypt.

However, Fahmy’s claim centered on the Egyptian concept of “moral rights” – the entitlement of creators to contest their work in court even when they’ve licensed economic rights to others. Moral rights is not a concept recognised in the US. Carter and Mosley argued that Fahmy could not invoke Egyptian moral rights over the American licence for the song.

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“Fahmy lacked standing to pursue his claim,” said Snyder in court. “In light of that decision, it will not be necessary to submit to the jury whether ‘Big Pimpin” infringed ‘Khosara Khosara.”

The week-long trial took place in Los Angeles and included testimony from musicologists, copyright lawyers and even Linkin Park’s bass player Dave Farrell, who worked on a new version of ‘Big Pimpin” for the band’s collaborative album with Jay Z, ‘Collision Course’.

Carter and Mosley also took to the stand, with the latter questioned on the $100,000 he paid to license the song from EMI in 2001 after learning of their claim to ‘Khosara Khosara’. “Legal just told me, ‘$100 grand and you’re clear,'” he said.

Fahmy’s lawyer says he will appeal the ruling.