A California federal court judge ruled this week that a lawsuit filed against Jay-Z by the children of Egyptian composer Baligh Homody, who claim the rapper's use of Homody's "Khosara, Kohsara" composition in his 2000 hit 'Big Pimpin' violated their 'moral rights' as his heirs, has grounds to proceed.
For international law buffs, the 'moral rights' portion of Egyptian copyright law is a fascinating example of U.S. courts handling foreign law. Unlike the U.S., Egypt has two different licenses for copyrighted material: "economic rights"(which apply to unaltered originals) and "moral rights," which must be obtained if you want to "mutilate" the source material by distorting it, or in Jay-Z's case, sample from it. Jay-Z only licensed the "economic rights" to mechanically reproduce Homody's work, originally the theme music for the 1957 Egyptian film Fata Ahlami. And one of Homody's heirs has sued on the grounds that the "moral rights" were never secured.
But for us the most fascinating part of the case is learning that H.O.V.A drew from mid-century Egyptian cinema. Compare for yourself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.