U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Jay-Z, Timbaland Win Odd Copyright Infringement Appeal for 'Big Pimpin'

After a long drawn out battle over a song that was released nearly 20 years ago, this case may be getting some finality -- or maybe it's just a little closer.

It's no secret that the song Big Pimpin features a significant sample from the song Khosara Khosara. Listening to the two, it's clear. Interestingly, Timbaland actually did pay $100,000 to license the song. And luckily for the U.S. artists, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Osama Ahmed Fahmy's claims against Jay-Z and Timbaland lacked standing.

Moral Rights

It's not that Fahmy doesn't hold a copyright to the sampled track, it's that the type of copyright he had was found to only be enforceable in Egypt, and therefore, a U.S. court really couldn't provide the requested relief. The rights had been split years ago.

One of Fahmy's claims on appeal was that he retained the "moral rights" in Egypt. These allow copyright holders to prevent their work from being used by others on moral grounds (if they find it offensive). However, according to the Ninth Circuit, foreign copyright holders are only entitled to as much protection from the U.S. courts as domestic copyright holders would be. Since U.S. copyright law doesn't recognize the "moral right" of a copyright holder to control derivative works of music, the court found that Fahmy could not have standing.

Since this is only a panel decision, it is likely that Fahmy will push for en banc review, or even cert.

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