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Live Nation sued over Jay-Z tune

Posted On: Feb. 24, 2015 12:00 AM CST

When Jay-Z rapped about “spending cheese” in his 1999 hit “Big Pimpin’,” we imagine he wasn’t referring to shelling out for the endless litigation that has resulted from the song’s release.

Concert promotion giant Live Nation Worldwide Inc. has become the latest entity to find itself embroiled in legal action over the song’s alleged sampling of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi’s song “Khosara, Khosara” from the 1960 film “Fata Ahlami.”

Mr. Hamdi’s nephew, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, claims in a lawsuit filed Feb. 18 in a Los Angeles federal court that Live Nation illegally profits from Jay-Z’s concerts, at which “Big Pimpin’” is regularly performed, either in its complete form or as part of a medley.

Mr. Fahmy claims that Live Nation itself routinely uses the song in promotional materials in order to drive ticket sales and other revenues derived from Jay-Z’s performances.

“A substantial percentage of people who purchased tickets to Jay-Z’s shows hoped he would perform Big Pimpin’, expected he would perform Big Pimpin’, and would have been disappointed if he had not performed Big Pimpin’,” Mr. Fahmy claims in his lawsuit. “Live Nation has profited substantially from Jay-Z’s performances of Big Pimpin’, including, but not limited to, profits from ticket sales, merchandise, parking, concessions, and other revenue streams.

Mr. Fahmy alleges in the lawsuit that Live Nation “knew that Big Pimpin infringed upon the “Khosara, Khosara” copyright but it nevertheless continued to sponsor, promote, and facilitate Jay-Z’s performances of the infringing work.”

Mr. Fahmy has been battling Jay-Z — along with EMI Music Publishing Ltd., MTV Networks Enterprise Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., UMG Recordings Inc. and Warner Music Inc. — in federal court on his deceased uncle’s behalf since 2007.