Jay Z is currently in court for a lawsuit filed against his 1999 hit, “Big Pimpin’.” He is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed by Osama Ahmed Fahmy, the nephew of late Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdi; Fahmy accused Jay Z, née Shawn Carter, of using part of Hamdi’s composition in “Big Pimpin’.” The composition Jay Z is being accused of violating is titled “Khosara Khosara.” Defending alongside Jay Z is Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley, who helped produce the track.
According to copyright law, in order to use selections from original compositions, the interested party must obtain approval from the original composer, which Jay Z and Timbaland never did. Peter Ross, Fahmy’s lawyer, has stated that he believes Jay Z and Timbaland never got approval from Hamdi because they knew Hamdy would never give them approval, given the nature of the lyrics of the song. However, Andrew Bart, who is representing Jay Z, successfully convinced U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder, who is presiding over the case, that the lyrics of the song would be irrelevant throughout the trial, as the words “vulgar” or “disgusting” may prejudice the jury against Jay Z.
Timbaland’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, alleged that Timbaland used the song without realizing it was owned by EMI Music Arabia. Despite the fact that producers later paid $100,000 to the record label to acquire rights, Fahmy continued to argue that it didn’t matter, and the only people who could approve the use of his uncle’s music are his heirs. Lepera responded by saying Fahmy’s attempt to seek remuneration was “an effort to get an undeserved income.”
This trial is the second recent high-profile copyright case this year; Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of plagiarizing Marvin Gaye in their hit, “Blurred Lines,” earlier this year. Gaye’s family was ultimately awarded $5.3 million from the suit.
Jay Z is one of the most financially successful artists in the industry, and his net worth as of 2015 is approximately $560 million. The rap mogul is married to equally successful Beyoncé, and the two have a daughter together named Blue Ivy.