Jay Z’s appearance in court this week is the result of a copyright claim filed eight years ago. Here’s everything you need to know about the ongoing proceedings…
WHO’S SUING JAY?
Osama Ahmed Fahmy, the nephew of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi. Hamdi was the songwriter of 1957 song ‘Khosara Khosara’. Both Hamdi and Abdel Halim Hafez, who sang on the song, have passed away.
Jay Z sampled ‘Khosara Khosara’ in his 1999 hit ‘Big Pimpin’’. Fahmy claims he didn’t ask permission.
WHEN DID PROCEEDINGS START?
Back in 2007, when Fahmy filed his first legal complaint.
WHAT IS FAHMY’S CLAIM?
He said hip-hop producer Timbaland, who is a defendant alongside Jay Z, had played certain parts of ‘Khosara Khosara’ note for note in ‘Big Pimpin’’. Fahmy’s lawyer, Peter Ross, has also said Jay Z didn’t ask permission from Hamdi – which is how samples are normally approved – because he would have had to play him the track, and Hamdi might not have approved of the song’s lyrics.
In Egypt, Ross says, there’s a well-established legal concept of “moral rights”. So Jay Z’s “risqué” track would have made it unlikely for him to get approval. Ross said, “You have to go to the composer himself, or his heirs, play the work, and get his approval. That he never did.”
SO WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
Jay Z and Timbaland are in court, eight years after the initial claim.
WHAT DID JAY’S LAWYER SAY?
Jay’s lawyer, Andrew Bart, said that the content of the “promiscuous” lyrics shouldn’t be considered in the trial, because the words “vulgar” and “disgusting” could prejudice the jury against Jay.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY?
US District Court Judge Christina Snyder was of the same opinion. 1-0 to Jay.
WHAT ABOUT THE ACTUAL ISSUE – DID JAY AND TIMBALAND STEAL THE SAMPLE?
Kind of. Timbaland’s lawyer Christine Lepera said he used the tune, from an old Egyptian film, without realising it was under copyright by EMI Music Arabia, because it had been on a CD full of “licence-free” music. He couldn’t name the CD though.
SO THAT’S IT, ISN’T IT?
No. Because Jay and Timbaland then paid $100k (£65k) to EMI for the licence. And Lepera insists much of the music used is too simple to be subject to copyright laws anyway. A music expert testifying on Wednesday said that four of the song’s 74 notes were repeated throughout ‘Big Pimpin’’.
RIGHT. SO – CASE CLOSED?
Not according to Hamdi’s nephew, Fahmy, who argues that only Hamdi’s heirs, not EMI, have the right to determine who gets to use his work.
WHAT DOES JAY SAY?
“I like the song. It’s pretty good.”
THE CASE CONTINUES…