Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’ Lawsuit Going To Trial

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December 15, 2011 | 2:25pm EST

Rap superstar Jay-Z is preparing to head to trial over allegations his hit song Big Pimpin’ infringes the copyright of an Egyptian song dating back to 1957.
Osama Ahmed Fahmy co-owns the rights to his uncle Baligh Hamdy’s composition Khosara, Khosara, and he initially sued the hip-hop icon in 2007,claiming Jay-Z and producer Timbaland used the track’s melody for 2000 chart smash Big Pimpin’.

Jay-Z’s record label bosses at EMI argued that the then-50-year-old song was governed by the 1909 Copyright Act, which only allows works to be protected by law for 28 years from the date of release, and a Los Angeles court judge ruled in their favor earlier this year.

However, US District Judge Christina Snyder subsequently decided Fahmy could still claim damages for any infringements which occurred up to three years before he filed suit, and the two parties will return to court to determine whether Jay-Z directly profited from using Big Pimpin’ in his live performances.

In court documents filed earlier this month, Judge Snyder writes, “There is no record evidence that Jay-Z used Big Pimpin’ in his advertisements for a particular concert or concert series, or that Big Pimpin’ was performed at every concert.

“It is a question of fact whether Jay-Z’s concert revenues should be considered direct or indirect… it is up to a jury to decide. Accordingly, the court finds that there is a triable issue whether Jay-Z’s concert revenues constitute direct profits from his infringing live performances of Big Pimpin’ for purposes of the Copyright Act.”

Judge Snyder’s decision to proceed with the case means Jay-Z and EMI bosses must provide more information on “both the manner of advertising concerts as well as the revenues derived” at a forthcoming pre-trial hearing.