It seems like every major rapper has had some sort of legal issue regarding the use of samples, and it’s now being revealed that JAY Z has been running into some problems over the alleged use of a very brief sample used in “Run This Town.” According to the website Techdirt, last November Record label TufAmerica filed a lawsuit against the rapper over copyright infringement regarding their belief that the rapper illegally sampled the word “oh” from Eddie Bo’s “Hook & Sling” on the Rihanna and Kanye-featuring hit. TufAmerica alleges that the “oh” clip was used repeatedly throughout the track without any sort of permission. In court documents obtained by Techdirt, JAY Z and his team are arguing the following:
First, it is black letter law that words and short phrases are simply not protectable under the Copyright Act. Thus, Plaintiff cannot state a claim based on the alleged infringement of a generic lyric such as, “oh,” or the sound recording thereof, and Plaintiffs claims should be dismissed as a matter of law. Second, even if the word “oh” or the miniscule portion of Plaintiffs Recording featuring the single word was somehow original enough to warrant copyright protection, the alleged copying here of a sound lasting a fraction of a second in Plaintiffs Works is de minimis and thus not actionable.
It is also worthy to note that TufAmerica have made similar accusations against the Beastie Boys, and according to Techdirt lost as a result of a stance that was “nearly identical” to the case being made by Jay Z and his team.