Lawsuit Over Old Jay-Z Song Is Still Kicking
(CN) - Jay-Z may still have to face clams that his song, "Big Pimpin'" infringed on a copyrighted 1957 Egyptian song, a federal judge ruled.
Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdy wrote "Khosara, Khosara" in 1957, and Jay-Z sampled the tune in the biggest song to come of his 1999 album "Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter."
EMI, which bought the rights to the song in 1995, ultimately reached a settlement with the producer of "Big Pimpin'" in 2001.
Osama Ahmed Fahmy, the heir and manager to Hamdy's estate, began investigating around that time how EMI obtained the rights to "Khosara, Khosara."
Six years later, the heir sued Jay-Z and more than two dozen others for copyright infringement.
Citing the three-year statute of limitations, a federal judge ultimately barred Fahmy from seek damages related to infringements that occurred before Aug. 31, 2004.
This left room for Fahmy to go after derivative works including "Collision Course," "Fade to Black" and "MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups."
Jay-Z fought the lawsuit under the doctrine of laches, which prevents a plaintiff who has full knowledge of facts from delaying in filing suit. The defense does not apply, however, if a defendant's infringement is willful.
The defendants claimed that they were prejudiced by the delay because of the 2002 death of Magdi Amorousi, who was personally involved in Hamdy's conveyance of the "Khosara, Khosara" to the music company Sout el Phan in 1968. EMI had obtained its rights to the song from Sout el Phan.
Amorousi would have served as a key witness for the defense in proving their right to create and exploit "Big Pimpin'."
Snyder found earlier this moth that Jay-Z and the other defendants deserve summary judgment on infringement claims from March 30, 2001, to the present.
Fahmy may still be able, however, to make a case for willful infringement based on the pre-settlement time period, according to the Aug. 15 ruling.
The court granted the heir discovery for this issue.
"Prior to the settlement with EMI, defendants did not possess colorable title to use 'Khosara Khosara' to create 'Big Pimpin','" Snyder wrote. "Therefore, plaintiff may seek facts tending to show that defendants' use of 'Khosara Khosara' during the pre-settlement period was reckless or willfully blind with respect to his rights. If plaintiff uncovers such evidence, the evidence could create a triable issue of fact regarding the willfulness exception to laches."