Seems like every week we feature another story about Jay Z being sued but this time he won a copyright infringement battle. Recently, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against the rapper over the song, “Big Pimpin’” because the estate of Egyptian composer Baligh Abdel Hamid Hamdi Morsi, better known as Baligh Hamdi, waited too long to bring the claim.
It all started back in the 1950s when Baligh Hamdi composed a musical piece entitled “Khosara Khosara” that would end up becoming the subject of various derivative works, and as a result, extensive litigation. In 1968, he assigned his rights in the composition to a company called Sout el Phan, and in 1995, after Baligh Hamdi died, his nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy renewed that assignment. Subsequently, Sout el Phan then assigned its rights to EMI Music Arabia.
In 1999, Jay Z entered the picture when he recorded “Big Pimpin’” together with producer Timbaland using a sample of “Khosara Khosara.” A year later, EMI Music Arabia, claiming worldwide rights in Baligh Hamdi’s composition, sued Timbaland under a claim of copyright infringement. Timbaland and EMI wound up reaching a settlement pursuant to which Timbaland and others were granted a license to use the composition. The following year, in 2001, Fahmy began to stir, hiring an attorney to look into contesting EMI’s rights in “Khosara Khosara.” However, Fahmy did not file suit until 2007, when he challenged Jay-Z, Timbaland, and numerous others involved in the production of “Big Pimpin’” and other derivative works.
The court ruled that the plaintiff waited too long to bring the case. Judge Snyder found that the delay resulted in prejudice to Jay Z and the other defendants as they spent time and money on “Big Pimpin’” based on the expectation that they were not infringing anyone’s copyright.
As a result, the Court granted summary judgment for Jay Z on most of Fahmy’s copyright claim holding that any claims for copyright infringement are barred for the period after the settlement with EMI. As for the period before the EMI settlement, the Judge held that laches could only be overcome if Fahmy can show that any infringement was willful. Jay Z isn’t the only one “big pimpin”, so are his lawyers after this victory.