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Jay-Z 'Big Pimpin' Lawsuit Can Go Forward, Judge Rules

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 09, 2011 9:46 AM

For rap artist and media mogul Jay-Z, "Big Pimpin" was a hit. Now a judge has ruled in favor of a big pimpin' lawsuit and Jay-Z is one step closer to a big pimpin' day in court.

At the center of the lawsuit is a sampled loop of "Khosara, Khosara," a song composed by the late Baligh Hamdy. The song was originally featured in Fata Ahlami, a 1960s Egyptian film. Hamdy passed away in 1993, and the copyright to the song passed down to his children.

"Big Pimpin" was released more than a decade ago, and was a track on Jay-Z's Vol. 3... The Life & Times of S. Carter album. The song featured a sampled loop of "Khosara, Khosara" in its instrumental track.

Jay-Z and his team contend that they have the correct license to use the Egyptian song.

The plaintiff, one of Hamdy's children, disagrees. Using Egyptian copyright law, the plaintiff says that Jay-Z merely obtained "economic rights" to the song, and could only reproduce, perform or distribute "Khosara, Khosara" without alteration, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Egyptian copyright law also grants "moral rights," which can only be obtained with the permission of all copyright holders. Jay-Z would have had to obtain the express permission of all of Hamdy's children to alter the song without breaking this law.

Jay-Z's attorneys argued that a U.S. court has no subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Federal judge Christina Snyder has ruled that the court has standing to hear the case, so the case will continue.

In order for a plaintiff to bring a case, they must have standing. Standing arises from the plaintiff's ability to enforce a legal right, and that there was some injury, or the possibility of injury, economic or physical. A ruling on standing generally takes place early in the litigation process.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the lawsuit will prevail against Jay-Z. "Big Pimpin" may still remain a fondly-remembered and eloquently-named rap hit.

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