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Sampling Music – Can I Do It And Not Get Caught?

If you’ve ever made a hip-hop beat, chances are you’re going to want to sample. Not only has it become an iconic sound of the genre, it’s a great way to infuse some soul into your tracks.

But is it actually legal to do it? The truth is that if you’re not paying for it, it isn’t legal. But don’t worry, the sampling police won’t come to your door and take you away. I mean, it happened to Biz Markie, but chances are it won’t happen to you.

Unless you start to rake in the dough, of course. And in that case, you’ll want to know what to do. So check out this article from a law blog to brush up on your copyright knowledge.

“In general, sample clearance is required only if you plan to make copies of your music and distribute the copies to the public.

Sample clearance is generally not required if:

  • You are just using the sampled music at home.
  • You are using the sample in live shows. This is because, usually, you are not making copies and the owner of the venue pays the blanket license fees to performing rights organizations such as Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) or American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
  • You plan to distribute copies to the public but meet one of the following: (1) an average listener would not notice the similarities between your end product and the sample, or (2) your use of the sample falls under the “fair use” doctrine. For more information on these, see “Defending a Lack of Sample Clearance,” below.” – www.nolo.com

This is always good information to know, especially if you’re making a lot of hip-hop beats!

Check out the full article here.

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