Big Pimpin’, Saving Cheese



I’m not sure if you remember, back in 2007, where Jay-Z and Timbaland were sued by the nephew of Baligh Hamdi, composer of “Khosara, Khosara”, an Egyptian composition that was borrowed in Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin”. Plaintiff’s argument was based on “droit moral”, so called moral rights, which refers to the right of an author to prevent revision, alteration, or distortion of its work, regardless of who owns the rights to the work. Moral rights are only recognized in the United States as applicable to visual works. Countries outside of the United States recognize moral rights in other types of copyrighted works, such as compositions and sound recordings. Plaintiff argued that the moral rights personal to Egyptian authors impacts licensing contracts, regardless of where they are inked. The case went to trial in October 2015, and Jay-Z won on a judgment as a matter of law before the trial was even completed.


The issue presented at trial was whether or not the moral rights, which refer to the right of an author to prevent revision, alteration, or distortion of his work, regardless of who owns the rights to the work, was passed on to his heirs or if it was transferred by agreement to another entity. Moral rights are only recognized in the United States as applicable to visual works. Countries outside of the United States recognize moral rights in other types of copyrighted works, such as compositions and sound recordings.


Plaintiff appealed the ruling and 9th Circuit District Court Judge Bea ruled in favor of Jay-Z stating that Plaintiff’s claim for moral rights in unenforceable in the United States because the US does not recognize such a right, but even if it did, the only relief Plaintiff would have is injunctive relief and not a claim to damages. In Egypt, a violation of “droit moral” only prohibits the infringer from continued infringement, it does not give rise to a claim for monetary compensation.


Looks like Jay-Z is still big pimpin’ and saving cheese. He might need it given the tidal wave that’s befallen him. (See prior blog written about Tidal.)


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