Jay-Z, Timbaland, and Ginuwine successfully defend against copyright lawsuit in less than 13 words.


A New York City judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Warner Chappell Music, Jay-Z, producer Timbaland, and singer Ginuwine over the tracks “Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe.” The suit was brought by soul musician Ernie Hines, who claimed that these songs infringed on the copyright of his 1969 song “Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart).” However, the judge ruled that the part of Hines’ song that was allegedly copied is not protected under copyright. This was because the introduction in question was determined to be a slightly altered version of a musical number from 1914 that is in the public domain.

In his ruling, Judge Paul Oetken agreed with experts who stated that the introduction was based on a piece of music commonly used in silent movies from that era. Since it is available in the public domain and Hines’ intro only made minimal additions, the court concluded that this part of Hines’ work cannot be protected by copyright. Furthermore, the judge found that there was not enough similarity between the allegedly infringing works and Hines’ song to support a claim of copyright infringement.

The tracks “Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe” were released in the late 1990s, with the former appearing on Jay-Z’s album “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life,” and the latter on Ginuwine’s album “100% Ginuwine.” While neither track achieved significant commercial success, they have garnered streams on platforms like Spotify. Hines originally filed the lawsuit in 2019, seeking at least $2 million in compensation for the alleged infringement. The dismissal of the original lawsuit led Hines to amend his complaint and name new defendants, but the court ultimately granted a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, bringing an end to the case.

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