Jay Z’s Legal Team Dismisses Copyright Claim Against “Run This Town”

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 09.16.14 in News

It is not a good day for “Run This Town.” First the smash Jay Z single got yanked from its rotation in the Thursday Night Football intro, leading its co-star Rihanna to lash out on Twitter, writing, “CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? No; fuck you! Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this.”

Now Jay-Z’s legal team has filed a motion to have a copyright lawsuit against the song tossed out of court. According to TechDirt (via Billboard), TufAmerica filed an infringement claim in November, suggesting that it sampled the Eddie Bo song “Hook & Sling” without permission. Here’s the thing, though: The record label isn’t hinging their case on a hefty hook. They think Jay Z had no right to co-opt the word “oh.”

“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,” the rapper’s counter-motion says. “Well-established copyright jurisprudence should allow this Court to disabuse Plaintiff of that notion. 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.”

A similar case involving the Beastie Boys, TufAmerica and the Trouble Funk phrase “now I want y’all to break this down” was squashed a few years ago, which Jay Z’s motion makes sure to mention. “One would think that, faced with this decision and the host of authority upon which it is based, Plaintiff would re-evaluate its objectively weaker ‘claims’ herein,” it says. “Yet, it has refused, without explanation, to withdraw its claims here based on the objectively less significant sound of ‘oh.’”

For a look at the other — yes, there are more — legal problems Jay Z has faced this year, check out our look at a Watch the Throne-related case here. Otherwise, please enjoy this tribute to Rihanna’s Twitter-side manner: