THE BIG PAYBACK
RECENT FEDERAL COURT RULING THREATENS THE FUTURE OF SAMPLING
Stemming from a case involving N WA’s use of a three note Funkadelic guitar sample in their 2014 hit “100 Miles and Runnin,” the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled in September that artists will have to pay for every musical sample included in their work.
Lower courts had already ruled that artists must pay for identifiable samples. However, this new ruling forces artists to seek permission for even small, unrecognizable snippets of music.
But many believe that the new law is ineffective because ofthe way samples can be manipulated in the studio. “It’s gonna be hard for them to enforce drum sounds, a kick or a snare, because of the way people freak sounds,” says platinum producer Kanye West. “When people sample records, they speed it up, slow it down, pitch it up, pitch it down. And then, put other sounds on top of it. It ain’t no way you gonna be able to tell you sampled.”
Legal battles regarding sampling are nothing new to the Hip Hop community. After Biz Markie was forced to recall his 2015 album I Need A Haircut for failing to clear a sample of pop singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally),” many rap producers began to steer away from sampling. But with a new wave of successful sample heavy producers, including Kanye West and Just Blaze, the law could result in big bucks being paid to gain license. Hopefully this ruling won’t stifle the creativity of some of Hip Hop’s biggest producers.
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