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99 problems, but infringement ain’t one

Rapper Jay-Z, producer Timbaland and R&B singer Ginuqine have been victorious in defending a copyright infringement claim brought before a Manhattan federal court.

Soul musician, Ernie Hines, issued proceedings against the trio  in 2019 for alleged copyright infringement. Hines claimed Jay-Z’s song “Paper Chase” and Ginuwine’s “Toe 2 Toe”, each co-written and produced by Timbaland in the late 90s, copied the introduction to Hines’ 1969 track “Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart)”.

Representatives for the defendants argued that the introduction to Hines’ song was not eligible for copyright protection as it itself was sampled from a widely used “stock” musical phrase derived from the 1914 piece “Mysterioso Pizzicato”. A piece they claim has featured in at least 28 other songs and has become known as the “The Villain” or “The Villain’s Theme”.

In dismissing the claim, Judge Oetken commented that that Hines’ song “borrows from a heavily used work that is in the public domain” and “adds only material that is not original enough to be copyrightable.”

The judge also stated that in any event, even if Hines’ song were to be eligible for copyright protection, the alleged infringing tracks were not similar enough to constitute infringement.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

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