Business News Legal

Jay-Z wins Big Pimpin sample case

By | Published on Thursday 22 October 2015


For such a long running legal battle over a fifteen year old song, the big ‘Big Pimpin’ sample case ended somewhat abruptly yesterday, with the judge ruling in the defendants’ favour without requiring the jury to deliberate.

As previously reported, Jay-Z and producer Timbaland were accused of infringing the rights of late Egyptian film composer Baligh Hamdi by sampling a piece of his music in their 2000 single ‘Big Pimpin’. But Timbaland’s people had licensed the sample from an EMI subsidiary, which had a relationship with an Egyptian company, which had a relationship with Hamdi.

Nevertheless, the composer’s family argued that neither EMI nor its Egyptian partner were empowered to license the sample, and even if they were, doing so for a track of this nature infringed Hamdi’s moral rights under Egyptian law. Countering, the defence argued that Hamdi had, in fact, assigned his copyright to EMI’s affiliate, and that Egyptian moral rights are not relevant in an American copyright dispute.

Jay-Z and Timbaland’s people actually tried to have the case thrown out on the basis Egyptian moral rights were irrelevant to this dispute all the way back in 2011. But at that point the judge said there was a sufficient case under US law to allow the matter to proceed to court.

However, yesterday the same judge, Christina Snyder, ruled that, based on the testimony of Egyptian law experts, she was now confident the Hamdi family did not have enough standing to pursue this action, and it was therefore unnecessary to hand the matter to the jury. Case closed then.

“We and our clients obviously are very pleased with this decision. 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”, Christine Lepera, a legal rep for the defendants, told reporters.

Though the lawyer working for the Hamdi family has already vowed to appeal. So maybe not quite case closed.