Jay-Z Forced to Testify Over "Big Pimpin" Lawsuit
Sixteen years ago, music producer Timbaland worked with Jay-Z on a track for the upcoming album Vol. 3...Life and Times of S. Carter. At the recording session, Timbaland grabbed a CD that contained Middle Eastern music he believed to be in the public domain. He found a particular song from Egypt which would later create the song "Big Pimpin". The song became a hit. In fact, it was so popular Rolling Stone magazine called it one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. When the song came out, it was later identified that the sample came from Baligh Hamdi song "Khosara, Khosara" from the 1960 Egyptian film Fata ahlami. A foreign subsidary company identified the song and claimed the rights belonged to the Egyptian company. Timbaland then paid $100,00 to EMI for rights to use the sample, and that the money was supposed to end any dispute. However, it did not. Instead, what happened is one of the longest-running lawsuits in America and it is finally going to go to trial on October 13 with Timbaland and Jay Z set to testify, according to court filings submitted on Monday.
The lawsuit, filed in 2007 in California federal court, comes from Osama Ahmed Fahmy, the nephew of Hamdi who is targeting Jay Z, Timbaland, EMI, Universal Music, Paramount Pictures (over a Jay Z documentary), MTV (over a Jay Z special) and others. After all, "Big Pimpin" has been exploited by many. If this case was as simple as determining whether "Khosara, Khosara" was illicitly copied, and the damage therein, it would be interesting enough. Here, for example, are some of the exhibits attached to a deposition that Jay Z gave in the case: A Live Nation touring business plan, royalty statements for Jay Z and his agreement with Roc-A-Fella Records. [SOURCE>Jay-Z argues that his company has properly licensed the rights to the sample. While, EMI lawyers argue that this is not a licensising issue but a moral rights issue. Moreover, they did not agree to allow Jay-Z the right to say the things he said in the song.
"The evidence will show that the defendants did not enter into valid agreements that 'expressly and in detail' — including indicating the range, purpose, and period and place of exploitation — convey the right to useKhosara, Khosara in Big Pimpin'," states plaintiff's memorandum. "The evidence will also show that the defendants did not obtain the consent of the author or his heirs to introduce modifications in or additions toKhosara Khosara; therefore, any license to economically exploit Khosara Khosara in Big Pimpin' would be null and void."Now the issue is a moral rights issue which in Egyptian law is a big deal.