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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jay-Z Asks Judge|to Rule From the Bench

LOS ANGELES (CN) -Jay-Z's trial lawyers argued Tuesday that a federal judge should throw out the copyright lawsuit accusing him of using an unauthorized sample for his hit "Big Pimpin'", because Egyptian "moral rights" do not apply in the United States.

Eight years ago, Osama Ahmed Fahmy claimed that Jay-Z did not ask for permission when he sampled "Khosara, Khosara" written by Fahmy's uncle, songwriter Baligh Hamdi.

Fahmy's attorney Keith Wesley also filed a motion Tuesday afternoon, seeking judgment as a matter of law that "Big Pimpin'" infringes the "Khosara, Khosara" copyright.

The trial began a week ago in U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder's courtroom.

In more court papers filed Tuesday, Jay-Z and producer Timbaland's lawyers argued that Fahmy could not assert "moral rights" to the composition in the United States.

As a key component in Fahmy's case against Jay-Z and Timbaland, Fahmy's attorneys have argued during trial that Egyptian moral rights law give Hamdi or his heirs an "inalienable" right to prevent use of "Khosara, Khosara" that alters the song.

Jay-Z and Timbaland looped four measures of an Arabic flute of the song for "Big Pimpin'"

Their attorney David Steinberg argued in a memorandum in support of a motion for judgment that the moral rights issue "certainly presents no jury question."

Steinberg told Snyder in the courtroom Tuesday that moral rights are relevant only to contracts in Egypt.

EMI Music Arabia licensed the use of the "Khosara, Khosara" sample to Timbaland for $100,000 in every territory except Egypt, the eight-person jury was told during the five days of trial.

"His [Fahmy's] moral rights card could only be played in Egypt," Steinberg told the court. He said in his filing that a decision in favor of Fahmy could have "catastrophic effects on contracting parties worldwide."

During Tuesday morning proceedings, Fahmy's lawyer Peter Ross urged Snyder to instruct the jury on the Egyptian law if they deliberate the case, and allow them to make a determination.

"In my view this isn't a difficult exercise," Ross told the judge. He said Egyptian law is clear: that Hamdi and his heirs retained the right to approve any use of "Khosara, Khosara" that "mutilates" or "distorts" the original work.

Jay-Z and Timbaland's attorneys also asserted in court papers that Fahmy did not hold an exclusive economic right to license or prevent use of the sample in the United States and does not have standing to pursue the lawsuit.

Jay-Z was present for the first two days of the federal copyright trial. Timbaland and Jay-Z both took the stand last Wednesday. They were not present during proceedings Tuesday.

Judge Snyder on Tuesday indicated that she would consider the motions. Closing arguments were scheduled to begin Wednesday.

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