A New York judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by soul singer Ernie Hines against Warner Chappell Music, Jay-Z, Timbaland, and Ginuwine, Reuters reported Monday. The 2019 suit alleged that Jay-Z’s 1998 track “Paper Chase” (feat. Foxy Brown) and Ginuwine’s 1999 cut “Toe 2 Toe” — both produced by Timbaland — illegally copied Hines’s 1969 song “Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart).”
Indeed, Timbaland’s beats for both ’90s tracks center a sample of the roughly three-second guitar riff from the intro of Hines’s ’60s single. Per Reuters, however, U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken sided with the defendants, who argued that the specific part they sampled was not protected because that riff itself is an interpolation of “Mysterioso Pizzicato” (aka the “Villain Theme”), a commonly quoted “stock” musical phrase in the public domain. In his ruling, Oetken added that Hines’s riff “adds only material that is not original enough to be copyrightable” to the classic tune.