Jay Z attends start of copyright trial over 1999 hit Big Pimpin'
Published 14/10/2015 | 02:41
A copyright infringement trial over Jay Z's hit song Big Pimpin' has opened with a lawyer for heirs of an Egyptian composer accusing the rapper of misusing music from a popular 1950s love ballad.
Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, listened as a lawyer for relatives of Baligh Hamdi accused him and Timbaland of violating rights to Hamdi's 1957 hit Khosara Khosara to create Big Pimpin'.
Lawyer Pete Ross accused Carter of lacing vulgar lyrics over Hamdi's melody without receiving the proper permission. Carter's lyrics are not at issue in the case, and lawyers for him and Timbaland say they secured the appropriate rights to feature Khosara Khosara.
Timbaland, whose real name is Timothy Mosely, also attended the opening of the trial in Los Angeles. His lawyer, Christine Lepera, told jurors he initially used elements of Hamdi's work thinking it was royalty-free, but he later secured the appropriate rights.
Mr Ross disputes that statement and accused the men of violating Hamdi's "moral rights", a legal concept he said is well-established in Egypt that would have required them to get permission to use elements of Khosara Khosara in a song celebrating a promiscuous lifestyle.
Khosara Khosara was featured in a 1957 Egyptian film and became a major hit, Mr Ross said.
Ms Lepera denied "moral rights" were at issue in the case and said evidence would show that Hamdi's heirs had been repeatedly paid for the use of the composer's music. She also denied that the rap song used major elements of Hamdi's work, saying much of its music was simple and not copyrightable.
It is the second major case to go to trial in Los Angeles involving allegations that a hit song infringes on another artist's rights. In March, a federal jury ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams violated the copyright of Marvin Gaye's hit Got To Give It Up to create their hit song Blurred Lines.
Gaye's family was initially awarded 7.4 million dollars (£4.8 million) but a judge later trimmed the verdict to 5.3 million dollars (£3.4 million).