A US judge in California on Wednesday dismissed a case against Jay Z in which the heir of an Egyptian composer said the rapper illegally used a flute sample in his hip-hop classic “Big Pimpin’.”
After a week of testimony in the copyright infringement case, in which lawyers for the plaintiff said the late composer would have been “horrified” to learn his song had been combined with “vulgar” rap lyrics to create “Big Pimpin’,” US district judge Christina Snyder dismissed the case.
It was the latest twist in a long-running saga over the flute sample which opens and appears throughout Jay Z’s 1999 hit song extolling the “pimpin'” life of casual sex.
That sample turned out to come from late composer Baligh Hamdi’s song “Khosara, Khosara,” composed for a 1957 movie, and Hamdi’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy argued that Jay Z and producer Timbaland illegally used the sample without first asking permission.
However, the rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and Timbaland, whose real name is Timothy Mosley, testified that they were under the belief they had valid rights to the song.
Timbaland testified that in 2011 they had paid $100,000 in 2001 to EMI Arabia, which said it owned “Khosara, Khosara,” for the rights to the song.
But Fahmy claimed that deal was irrelevant and that the rapper would have still had to seek consent for alterations to the original work.
“My client is pleased and gratified by the decision,” Jay Z’s attorney Andrew Bart, said after the judge ruled the case would not go to a jury.
Fahmy’s lawyer, Peter Ross, declined comment.
The case is just the latest in a string of copyright infringement lawsuits involving a major artists.
In March, a jury in California awarded Motown legend Marvin Gaye’s children $7.4 million after ruling that singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had plagiarized the late singer’s music in their song “Blurred Lines.”