Jay-Z and Timbaland were both in court on Tuesday for the first day of a copyright infringement trial regarding their 1999 song Big Pimpin’.
Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, listened as a lawyer for the heirs of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi accused him and Timbaland of violating rights to Hamdi’s 1957 hit, “Khosara Khosara” to create “Big Pimpin.’ ”
Jay Z, wearing a navy suit and tie, sat between his lawyers at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles as he silently observed the afternoon’s proceedings. He told Reuters he had no comment on the case.
Attorney Pete Ross accused Carter of lacing vulgar lyrics over Hamdi’s beautiful melody without receiving the proper permission.
Carter’s lyrics however aren’t at issue in the case, and lawyers for Carter and Timbaland say they secured the appropriate rights to feature “Khosara Khosara” on “Big Pimpin’.”
Timbaland, whose real name is Timothy Mosely, also attended the opening of the trial.
His attorney, Christine Lepera, told jurors that he initially used elements of Hamdi’s work thinking it was royalty-free, but he later secured the appropriate rights.
The producers paid $100,000 (£65,300) to the record label to acquire the licence.
Ross disputes that statement, and he accused the men of violating Hamdi’s “moral rights,” a legal concept he said is well-established in Egypt that would have required them to get permission to use elements of “Khosara Khosara” in a song celebrating a promiscuous lifestyle.
Lawyers for Jay Z and producer hip-hop Timbaland say they secured the appropriate rights to feature the tune in the chorus.
But Ms Fahmy argued the payment was inconsequential, and that only Hamdi’s heirs had the right to approve a derivative work of the musician’s composition.
It is the second major case to go to trial in Los Angeles involving allegations that a hit song infringes on another artist’s rights.
In March, a federal jury ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams violated the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s hit “Got to Give It Up” to create their hit song “Blurred Lines.”
Gaye’s family was initially awarded $7.4 million, but a judge later trimmed the verdict to $5.3 million.
The trial will resume Wednesday with testimony from an expert on Egyptian music who began testifying Tuesday about Hamdi’s life and influence.
Jay Z is due to testify on Wednesday, along with an expert on Egyptian music.