Entertaining as all this Robin Thicke business is, another ongoing copyright lawsuit may have more impact in the long-term.

Back in November 2013, news emerged that Jay Z was facing down a copyright claim over an uncleared sample on his 2009 single ‘Run This Town’. The suit, filed by TufAmerica Inc, suggested that Jay Z had swiped a snatch of Eddie Bo’s 1969 track ‘Hook & Sling’ without permission.

According to documents obtained by TechDirt, TufAmerica’s claim is altogether more unusual – and, potentially, important – than initial reports suggested. Unusually, the claim pertains to a single “oh” sound, which lasts barely a second and is only sampled once on the track.

Jay Z’s people have presented the suit as a test case with serious ramifications for sample-based music. According to his lawyers, the plaintiff “apparently believes that it has a monopoly on the use of the word ‘oh’ and that it can stop others from using this word in recorded form. Even if one short word – or the recording thereof – could possibly be deemed original enough to warrant copyright protection, this fleeting and generic phrase is neither quantitatively nor qualitatively significant.”

The Guardian suggest that the case could well have ripple-effects, pointing back to the 2005 Bridgeport Music v Dimension Films case. In that instance, NWA’s ‘1000 Miles and Runnin’ was deemed to have infringed upon Funkadelic’s ‘Get Off Your Ass And Jam’ for its use of one two-second chord, although the sample appears several times in the track.

In more harmonious news, Jay Z is working on a collaborative album with Beyoncé.



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