Sampling: It’s The Law

The following article is contributed by Wackymango of the family. Head on over there now for great news, resources, and fantastic mixes at this excellent DJ and Turntablism community. Don’t be mad at me if you find yourself all week indulging the variety of dope sounds there. Now let’s get to business learning more about the current longstanding sampling debate we have endured in Hip Hop since the 1980s.

The reason why I started this short series in sampling is because I wanted to know what the rules are in sampling. With this being the 3rd article I wanted to get to the point. The other 2 were super basic stuff that you probably already knew.

I’ve asked less than a handful of people in regards to the laws of sampling and the frequent answer I’ve received was, “you can sample a song just as long as it’s no longer than 5 seconds.” To validate this answer I did a search online and found a site that put this topic to rest.

“Some people may have heard of a “fair use” rule that is in the music industry. This rule says that as long as it is four notes or less, there is no penalty for copyright infringement. That is not true at all. No matter how many notes it is, if a jury decides that they are easily recognizable as part of the other song, you can be fined.”

If you want want to watch an informative Documentary on Sampling. PBS is currently airing a show Genghis previously posted called Copyright Criminals. You can find the local broadcasting schedule at The show maybe titled “Independent Lens” because it’s a show within a show.


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