This has been in the courts since 2007. Seems like Jay-Z and producer Timbaland didn’t have all of their ducks in a row when they released “Big Pimpin'”. The now famous melody was sourced from Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez. Have a listen and then have a look at some press quotes below.
In 2007, the song sparked controversy when copyright co-owner Osama Ahmed Fahmy filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court, alleging that Timbaland illegally replayed portions of “Khosara Khosara” note-for-note. Jay-Z, Timbaland, Linkin Park and EMI Music Inc. were among the defendants named in the lawsuit.
This latest lawsuit follows an August (2007) decision by a California judge to dismiss another lawsuit by Ahab Joseph Nafal, who claimed Big Pimpin’ infringed the copyright on Khosara Khorasa. Lawyers for EMI Records argued the 50-year-old track was governed by the 1909 Copyright Act, AllHipHop.com reports.
An attorney for Hamdi’s heir contends the artists and their labels never obtained the proper permission from Hamdi’s heirs to use “Khosara Khosara.”
Lawyers for the pair, however, say proper permission to use the flute notes was obtained in 2001, Hamdi’s nephew has been paid for its usage and the case should be decided in Jay Z and Timbaland’s favor.
“He said that at the time, when Timbaland introduced the “Khosara Khosara” melody to him, he had no clue that it was a sample composition of Egyptian composer Hamdi.”
“Pete Ross, the counsel for the prosecution, has said in a statement that according to Egyptian Law, both Jay-Z and Timbaland are obliged to get direct approval from Hamdi or his estate before using vulgar and demeaning lyrics over “Khosara Khosara” track in “Big Pimpin.”
“Testimony in the case will draw to a close on Tuesday, and then it will be up to an eight-person jury to wade through a complicated series of contracts, correspondence and agreements that span three continents.
They’ve heard directly from Jay Z and Timbaland, who explained how “Big Pimpin’ ” came together and why they believe they have the right to use the “Khosara Khosara” notes.
Timbaland, whose real name is Timothy Mosley, paid $100,000 in 2001 to settle an out-of-court claim from a record company with rights to distribute Hamdi’s music outside Egypt.
It would be another six years before Hamdi’s nephew, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, sued Mosley and Jay Z for copyright infringement. Fahmy also asserts the raunchy lyrics of “Big Pimpin’ ” violate the “moral rights” of his uncle’s work, although that legal concept is enforceable only in Egypt and Jay Z’s lyrics are not an issue in the case.
Toward the end of his testimony Wednesday, Mosley told jurors his reaction to Fahmy’s lawsuit when it emerged so many years after “Big Pimpin’ ” was created: “So, who did I pay 100 grand to?””
Here is the original song from a scene in the 1960 film “El Banat Wel Seif (Girls and Summer)”
But WAIT! There’s More!
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