A New York City judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Warner Chappell Music, rapper Jay-Z, producer Timbaland, and singer Ginuwine over allegations of copyright infringement on the tracks “Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe.” The lawsuit was brought by soul musician Ernie Hines, who claimed that the songs infringed on the copyright of his 1969 song “Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart).” However, the judge concluded that the part of Hines’ song that the tracks allegedly copied is not protected under copyright.
The court determined that a six-second introduction to Hines’ song, which he claimed was used in both “Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe,” was a barely-altered version of a musical number from 1914 that is in the public domain. Therefore, Judge Oetker ruled that this part of Hines’ work cannot be protected by copyright. Furthermore, the judge agreed with the defendants’ claim that Hines failed to establish substantial enough similarity between the allegedly infringing works and his song to support a claim of copyright infringement.
“Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe” were released in the late 1990s and were not major hits. The original lawsuit was dismissed in 2020, but Hines filed an amended complaint naming Warner Chappell Music, Jay-Z, Timbaland, and Ginuwine as defendants. The court granted a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, avoiding a full trial. This ruling concludes the legal battle over the alleged copyright infringement.