Jay-Z is being sued for a second time over the sample used in his 2000 smash hit single “Big Pimpin’.” The family of Baligh Hamdy is suing over the use of Hamdy’s composition “Khosara Khosara.” Hamdy’s children have also named EMI, MTV, Paramount Pictures, UMG and Warner Music in the suit.
A previous lawsuit brought on by Hamdi’s children was dismissed in 2007 because all owners of the rights to the song were not listed in the court filing.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
In 1995, the Hamdy children licensed the right to mechanically reproduce “Khosara, Khosara” for sound recordings. Jay-Z and his team believe they acquired proper license to use the music.
That’s where Egyptian copyright law enters the picture.
The plaintiff says that to the extent the defendants obtained a license of the song for the 2000 hit “Big Pimpin,” it was merely what Egyptians call “economic rights” and only pertained to reproduction, performance or distribution of the work “without alteration.”
Egyptian copyright law also confers to owners “moral rights” over copyrighted work, which, according to the plaintiff’s experts, can’t be disposed of like “economic rights.” Basically, if Jay-Z wished to “mutilate” the original song by sampling it, looping it and adding his lyrics, the plaintiff argues he needed to get the express permission of each of Hamdy’s four children.
The defendants tried to waive this lawsuit away by saying that U.S. courts don’t have subject matter jurisdiction over Egyptian “moral rights,” but in a decision (below), Judge Christina Snyder seems willing to entertain the nuances of Egyptian law. (Moral rights aren’t a completely unrecognized concept in the U.S. but rarely factor heavily, especially in copyright cases.)
That doesn’t mean that the plaintiff will ultimately be successful, but the judge rules that there is standing to bring the case and there will have to be further fact-finding to determine “whether the use of Khosara Khosara was outside the scope of the licenses at issue,” which will include a determination of how derivative uses of music fit into the strata between economic vs. moral rights.