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Jay-Z in the house as Big Pimpin case gets underway

By | Published on Wednesday 14 October 2015


The big ‘Big Pimpin’ court case got under way yesterday with the big pimper himself Jay-Z in the house. How very moral. By which I mean, this is a moral rights case. There’s nothing moral about ‘Big Pimpin’.

Anyway, recap fans, this one relates to a long-running legal battle over a sample contained within the Roc Nation chief and Tidal waver’s 2000 track, which was produced by that Timbaland fella.

The sample was a snippet of music by the late Egyptian film composer Baligh Hamdy which Timbaland thought was out of copyright. On realising that wasn’t the case, his people sorted out a licence from an EMI subsidiary that had an arrangement with an Egyptian company which had an arrangement with Hamdy’s heirs.

However, said heirs were not impressed about the sample, and in 2007 got round to suing everyone involved in the track. Some of the case relates to what contracts between the various stakeholders in this dispute actually said, though the Hamdy family claim that – even if the copyright in the sample was controlled by other parties – licensing it for the ‘Big Pimpin’ sample without their approval infringed the late composer’s moral rights under Egyptian law.

This confused the Americans who don’t really involve morality in their legal system. Sorry, I mean, who don’t really have the concept of moral rights in the legal framework of their copyright system. Team Z tried to have the case thrown out on the basis it all hinged on a peculiar whim of Egyptian law and who could be bothered with that? But the judge allowed the case to proceed.

Though for a brief moment last week it looked like the case might not proceed just yet, because a crucial member of the Hamdy family announced he couldn’t travel to the court hearing due to a medical condition. He said the court should just use a six year old deposition instead of cross-examining him anew, which Jay-Z and Timbaland thought wasn’t fair, given that they will have to give testimonies.

Nevertheless, things kicked off yesterday with Jay-Z on hand to hear opening statements. Reps for the defence stressed that the sample was licensed and the plaintiffs had been earning from it ever since. But that doesn’t answer the moral rights issue. Today an expert on Egyptian music is expected to give testimony.

So the big pimpin continues.