A Los Angeles judge handed a victory to hip-hop mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley Wednesday, tossing out a federal copyright infringement lawsuit over a sampled Egyptian recording used as the hook for the 1999 hip-hop hit “Big Pimpin’.”
In granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the trial’s sixth day, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that EMI Music Arabia had assigned the rights to use Baligh Hamdi’s 1957 recording of “Khosara Khosara” to the rap artists, negating any claim of copyright violation by the late composer’s nephew, Osama Ahmed Fahmy.
Evidence showed that Mosley, who produced “Big Pimpin’,” had paid $100,000 in 2001 to the label EMI Music Arabia after he found the flute melody by Hamdi on a CD compilation, using it as an element in the worldwide chart hit.
“My client is pleased and gratified by the decision,” Carter’s attorney, Andrew Bart, said outside court.
Fahmy’s lawyer, Pete Ross, declined comment.
Both Carter and Mosley testified last week, telling jurors in downtown Los Angeles they believed they had valid rights to use the ballad’s melody line.
Fahmy’s 2007 suit also named Paramount Pictures, Warner Music, Universal Music Group and MTV among the defendants.
“We and our clients obviously are very pleased with this decision,” Christine Lepera, attorney for Mosley and various co-defendants, said in a prepared statement. “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.”
In his opening statement last week, Ross told the jury that Hamdi was an elegant man who would have been “horrified” to learn that his music had been combined with “vulgar” rap lyrics to create the raunchy “Big Pimpin’.”
Fahmy, who testified through a taped deposition because he was unable to travel from Egypt, argued that the use of his uncle’s melody in the hit was a violation of Hamdi’s moral rights under Egyptian law.
Snyder ruled that Carter’s rap lyrics could not be brought before the jury since they had nothing to do with the contractual issues that were the point of the case.
Mosley testified last week that he came upon the Hamdi song without any identifying information and assumed it was in the public domain.
Lepera said that when a claim arrived from EMI Music Arabia for the sample, Mosley immediately wrote a check to the company for $100,000.
“Mr. Fahmy was well-aware” of the payment, Lepera said.
In his opening statement, Bart told jurors his Grammy Award-winning client was “misplaced” in the case, and should not be a party to the lawsuit.
“He wrote some lyrics,” Bart said, arguing that Carter had nothing to do with the sampled melody line.
—City News Service