Verdict: Musical Building Blocks Cannot Be Owned

Witness: Song and Sample's Similarities Minimal
– Daily Journal

The Daily Journal interviewed Manatt's Robert Jacobs, co-chair of the firm's Entertainment and Media Litigation practice, for an article on the long-running copyright infringement case brought by the heir of an Egyptian composer against artist Jay Z and producer Timbaland. The case alleges that the hit Big Pimpin' infringes Osama Ahmed Fahmy's rights in a song called Khosara, Khosara.

The Daily Journal reports that four measures of Khosara, Khosara were used as a sample in Big Pimpin'. Music expert Lawrence Ferrara was called as a defense witness and was guided through a detailed explanation of the notes in each measure. Ferrara concluded the first and third measures are musical building blocks, which are commonplace and cannot be owned.

Jacobs told the publication that musicologists like Ferrara are employed to evaluate the extent to which elements of the two songs at issue are the same, and the degree to which the elements that are the same are original.

"If the elements that are the same are not original to the claimant, it's less likely that the claimant can claim copyright protection in them and prevail on an infringement claim that relies on their use in defendants' music," Jacobs said.

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