While most people believe that sampling or borrowing pre-composed portions of a song is not a violation of the law, I think that Sampling threatens an artist’s motivation to create, especially when they have no permission, and they haven’t paid royalties to the original artists. Sampling is a way of plundering other peoples work to get a quick buck. I could relate it to plagiarism in academic writing. In the second paragraph, I will discuss what sampling and all that it entails is. I will give a clear distinction between sampling pre-recorded music and violating publishing rights. In the third paragraph, I will provide a case law of an artist involved in sampling and copyright infringement. In conclusion, I will give an opinion on whether sampling should be a copyright violation or not.
Sampling is picking a small number of elements from a large group of items (population) so that, the components of the samples taken is similar to that of the whole.in relation to music, sampling is seeking a part of a sound recording and using it in another record as an instrument or an element using Digital hardware (samplers) and software such as digital audio workstations. Digital Technology allows an artist to copy a portion of a recorded sound or series of sounds and incorporate the fragment into a new work. A Sample could be a drum snare, rhythm, melody, speeches and any other music that one can think off. Sampling has its roots in the Hip Hop industry where DJs used it to create a new relationship between hip-hop and other types of African- American music like funk, soul, rhythm, and blues, etc. (Pareles). Different portions of songs are reused, remixed or even reworked as a separate instrumental layer to create a new piece. Over the years, Copyright law has evolved, and sampling is accepted if it is not infringing, i.e. a sample can be altered, and any similarities removed creating a difference between the new piece and the example also if used reasonably. The right to copy a portion of a copyrighted work without permission for limited purposes such as criticising a parody of the sampled work or in a classroom for educational purposes.
Composing a song using a melody or lyrics that have appeared in other artists’ works is violating publishing right. Artists producing a new song should be very original and use their creativity. Digital Technology has helped to reduce publishing violations by creating a way to record all melodies, lyrics, rhythms, etc. (Lindenbaum). In the case of Williams v. Gaye, Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and Clifford Harris, song “Blurred Lines,” infringed Frankie Christian Gaye, Nona Marvisa Gaye, and Marvin Gaye III’s copyright in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit song “Got to Give It Up.” In this appeal the jury held that, ‘blurred lines’ had infringed the copyrights of the defendant.
Sampling in itself should not be a copyright violation. This is because sampling is a viable art form in itself. Nevertheless, strict laws should be put in place and enforced when artists are considering sampling as a method of producing a new piece. Artists violate the publishing rights in the name of sampling. Clear laws governing sampling should be outlined to establish a difference.
Lindenbaum, John. “MUSIC SAMPLING AND COPYRIGHT LAW.” Centre for Arts and Cultural policy studies (April 8, 1999): 30-50.
Pareles, John. ” For fair use purposes, the commercial purpose of a work is only one element of the inquiry into the purpose and character of the work. The other elements to be considered are the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portio.” The New York Times (1986): 1-5.