Jay Z, Timbaland to Testify in Court Over ‘Big Pimpin” Sample

  • By Olamide Onipede


Jay Z has already submitted a deposition and promised to turn over relevant documents regarding a legal case about a sample used in “Big Pimpin’”, but now he’s set to appear in court. The rap mogul will testify along with producer Timbaland in the trial set to begin October 13th.

The lawsuit comes from the nephew of the late Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, whose song “Khosara, Khosara” features the flute part used in the hook to “Big Pimpin’”. Though Timbaland paid EMI $100,000 for rights to the sample, Hamdi’s nephew claims the US rights laws ignore the moral rights of Egyptian law (rules limiting the alteration of copyrighted material with respect to the originator).

The plaintiff, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, filed the suit in 2007 against Jay, Timbaland, EMI, and Universal Music, as well as MTV and Paramount Pictures for how the song was used in TV specials and movies. Court documents say a “lump-sum buyout” was paid to Hamdi’s heirs and that Fahmy signed over any control of US rights to “Khosara” in a 2002 agreement, meaning Fahmy would have no claim to bring the suit forward.

Fahmy’s lawyers, however, argue that the 2002 agreement ignores the Egpytian law of moral rights in regards to licensing contracts. They say the agreement did not allow for modifications to be made to “Khosara”, and that Jay Z and Timbaland failed to “expressly and in detail” explain where, how, when, and why the song would be used.

The defense, meanwhile, argues that Fahmy’s complaint centers on an Egyptian law allowing for rights holders to renege on rights agreements if the material is used “in manners deemed to be ‘objectable,’” but that the Court has previously ruled that such Egyptian rules were inapplicable in US law. In addressing the marketing expert, who says he polled Jay Z concertgoers asking whether they expected to hear “Big Pimpin’”, the defense said in a brief, “The notion that people buy concert tickets to [Jay Z’s] concerts to hear one song never mind an instrumental sample contained in one song that may or may not be played  is patently absurd.”

Fahmy’s team will also bring to the stand Judith Finell, the musicologist famous for testifying for the plaintiffs in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit.

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