film score copyright infringement suit targets jay z

Jay Z is no stranger to copyright law, having been on both sides of copyright disputes over the course of his career. He finds himself now, though, on the wrong end of a copyright infringement suit for illegally sampling the score of an obscure Egyptian film.

Reports Eriq Gardner for The Hollywood Reporter:

Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z is facing a lawsuit over claims that the mogul’s megahit song “Big Pimpin” violates the “moral rights” of heirs of a 1960s Egyptian film composer. In a decision Tuesday, a California federal judge ruled that the plaintiff has standing to pursue a lawsuit.

What is it with hip-hop producers sampling decades-old film music and then getting into legal trouble?

In March, we covered how Timbaland escaped a lawsuit for illegally sampling a 1967 Bollywood tune thanks to odd Indian copyright laws. Now, Jay-Z is in hot water for sampling a musical composition “Khosara, Khosara,” originally recorded for use in the 1960 Egyptian film Fata Ahlami. So far, Jay-Z isn’t nearly as fortunate as Timbaland was.

The original composition was created by Baligh Hamdy, and the copyright interests passed down to his four children upon his death in 1993. One of those children, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, is the plaintiff in this case against Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), EMI PublishingMTV NetworksParamount PicturesUMG RecordingsWarner Music and many others.

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.

 

Carter Maness adds for New York Press:

Jay-Z’s team did license the song properly (this wasn’t 1985), but the family claims it violates Egyptian copyright law and “moral rights” because he only had permission to use the sample, not loop it and rap over it.

 

In 2006, Jay Z was also sued for copyright violation, and Tim Wu wrote a terrific article for Slate on Bridgeport, the company suing him & taking advantage of copyright law for profit. Click here to check out this article.

 

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