Oct 23, 2015

Copyright Claim Against Jay Z "lacked standing"

Jay Z has come out of a week-long copyright infringement trial smiling. The rapper's 1999 hit Big Pimpin' incorporated a sample from a 1957 song by the late Baligh Hamdi, whose Nephew Osama Fahmy issued a legal complaint against Jay Z in 2007.

Jay Z and Timbaland testified to having paid a $100,000 license fee to EMI Music Arabia for the sample rights 2001, but Fahmy claimed the duo should have sought additional consent from Hamdi's family on the basis of his moral rights. Hamdi produced songs and films centred around Egypt's cultural renaissance, in contrast to what his attorney called the "vulgar" lyrics of Big Pimpin'. Fahmy had used Egypt's moral rights laws as a basis for his complaints.

Judge Snyder ruled on 21 October 2015 that Fahmy "lacked standing" to pursue his claim on the basis that his Uncle sold his rights to the tune in 2002 when he sold the rights to a record label.

Moral Rights

In the UK moral rights protect the personal interests of an author of copyright, lasting for the same duration as copyright (typically 70 years from the death of the author) pursuant to Sections 77-85 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The rights apply to only to copyright and are restricted to literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works and films and can be summarised as:

The right of paternity (to be identified as the author)
The right of integrity (to object to derogatory treatment of a work)
The right not to suffer false attribution
The right to privacy in respect of certain films and photographs

There are various circumstances where moral rights will not apply under UK law, for example when a work is created by an employee and copyright often therefore belongs to the employer. However, moral rights are provided for in UK law.

In the US, copyright protects only the economic interests of authors. Limited moral rights, which can and often will be waived, are provided for predominantly in the Visual Artists Rights Act 1990, which was ultimately only introduced in order for the US to comply with its obligations under the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention is an international agreement (between 168 countries) governing copyright law, but whilst it does set minimum standards of copyright protection for authors there remains significant variation in the protection granted.

Posted by: in: Copyright, News

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