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sampling I just can't drop it

Member for

21 years 1 month
Sorry, I can't let it drop.


NO IT CAN'T! The act of copying or sampling any portion of a recording without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal. If the sampling is done for personal use you can be prosecuted and fined for contravention of copyright law. If the sampling is done for financial gain in addition to the prosecution and fine you can also be sued for damages.


Wrong! Check with the copyright holder before you sample it, not before you release it. If you've already sampled it, you've already broken the law.

Am I being pedantic? Yes, but there is good reason. I am the first to realise that music is an art form but like it or not it is also a business. In business it is impossible to please all your clients all of the time. Particularly in smaller studios this is often down to unrealistic expectations on the part of the clients. Regardless of the reasons, if you have a beligerent client or an over zealous competitor, the last thing you want is to give them a stick to beat you with. If you've done any dodgy sampling it could become a seriously big stick.

My advice is that if you are in the business of music your livelihood could one day depend on you having more than a passing aquaintence with the laws which govern our business.

In short, using sampling technology is in many cases pushing up against the boundaries of copyright law. If like me you are using this technology in your work, surely it makes sense to know exactly where the legal line is drawn so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you are crossing it.

I hope this is useful,



Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 10/18/2000 - 22:48
Okay, lets have fun.

I must say I had quite a boring time going through legal files and from all I read Greg it's a tough call. You are being very extreme and really exaggerating the original post. Why your pushing this I don't really know and I wonder what your intent is here although I hope it helps RO get more members.

I found many legal files that would not stand in court regarding a snare sample or hi hat and especially if it had been used in an original song with no melody mirroring the said infringement. If the snare had been altered in any way it is concerned to be in the safe zone.(my words)
We could go on this until we used up the server space here so I hope you find some peace in your quest and begin a new journey on this site. If the original post was talking about sampling a obvious part of a melody then that's a different story. Pretty tough to kill cb for sampling a kick etc. The courts even favour more if you admit sampling a part.

Here is the bottom line to a small part of one of many files I found, this ones from your country.

'In assessing substantial similarity, courts look at the works as a whole, as opposed to
dissecting a work into its constituent elements or features.'

This is exactly the form of analysis which groups such as MACOS and Negativland have espoused,
however the fair use extension is left for the most part unexplored. Following the reasoning in the
latter case it seems that a small degree of sampling may not create liability. This method of analysis
was missing from the earlier decisions outlined above. However, Tuff could be distinguished from the
prior cases on the ground that actual copying could not be established by the evidence or by
admission. This prevented the usual judicial antipathy towards those who freely admit to unauthorized
appropriation of another's work through digital sampling, as shown by other cases. On the other hand,
the language in the case suggests that unauthorized samplers will not always be deemed liable for
infringement. This may represent a significant step forward in the courts movement towards applying a
classic substantial similarity analysis to digital sampling cases, which would negative the need for a fair
use analysis.

Courts have been inclined to find the bold use of sampling to constitute copyright infringements, and
in those cases where substantial portions of a copyrighted composition and/or sound recording are
misappropriated. Where should copyright draw the line? At the present time there is no line, or no
commonly used test.

The method of isolating liability deserves an analysis that looks at the whole as being more than the
sum of its parts. When underlying rhythms are taken, the analysis is more complicated and should not
deserve the short shrift it has been given. In other words it is contended that the mere fact of
sampling, despite admission and proof of access, but without proof of substantial similarity, should
not be deemed to be infringing use.

here is the site I got it on. http://www.geocitie… mistry/nyquist.htm

long live RO
a place for the sound mind

Member for

21 years 2 months

SonOfSmawg Thu, 10/19/2000 - 05:10
Since you decided to start a new string on the subject, I guess I'll put my two cents in. I'm not going to waste my time going into legal books for this. Instead, I'm
just going to give my opinion, for what it's worth.
As I stated in the other thread, I think that the best thing that anyone can do when it comes down to a gray area in sampling is
to apply the Golden Rule. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the Golden Rule is "Do unto others as you would have done unto you".
To expand...If someone took a big chunk of one of my recordings, used it as a main
part of one of their songs, and was making cash off of it, I'd be ticked off, I might even sue them. But if someone sampled just one or two individual sounds off of one of my recordings to use in their all original
composition that didn't even sound anywhere close to any of my songs, I personally wouldn't care in the least. In fact, I may just be a little flattered, that someone thought enough of a piece of my work to incorporate it into their own musical expression. "Immitation is the highest form of flattery".
Again, however, I wish to state that my original post, or any of my other posts never
suggested using anything that belongs to
someone else without their permission. In
fact, I was very clear about what I am looking for, and was asking about what is
commercially available. I never asked if anyone had any 'black market' connections to
get illegally obtained samples, and never asked if anyone without scruples could recommend the best way to rip-off my fellow artists.
So, I've had my say, that's my bottom line, and I think I've wasted enough of my time on a subject that I'm sure is more than obvious to every professional involved in
this site. I'll not be posting again on this subject...

Member for

21 years 1 month

Greg Malcangi Thu, 10/19/2000 - 05:19
Hi ro,


You have already fulfilled my intent. Namely you have thought about the grey areas and have gone and discovered the facts for yourself.

I suppose I am a little sensitive because the situation I outlined in my previous post, disgruntled client + dodgy sampling, happened to an aquaintance of mine earlier this year. The result being that after legal fees etc., he is now on the knife-edge of his studio going bankrupt. He could have avoided the situation with just a little more understanding of the legal issues in the first place. BTW, he just sampled some sounds from an album but did not copy the feel. He felt morally that he hadn't done anything wrong, ie. He followed the golden rule. In an ever more competative market with relatively small margins, fighting off a law suit is not something any of us want to face.


If I "killed" cb, it wasn't intentional. I disagree on principle with sampling anything that is copyrighted. However according to the implimentation of the law, just sampling a kick for example is highly unlikely to result in a law suit. On the other hand sampling the whole sound or feel of a "star" drummer's kit (without permission) is much more dodgy. By being quite forceful I hoped I would encourage readers of the thread to give the issue a little thought any hopefully avoid the situation my aquaintance no faces.