Industry Why Is Sampling Allowed For Some Samples And Not Others?

Fade

The Beat Hamster
Administrator
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
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I've often wondered about the art of sampling and how some samples seem to be okay to sample, whereas others are not. Sampling has been around for decades in Hip Hop and now it's spilled over into other genres of music, taking sampling to a whole new level. But how come it seems that you can get away with sampling some sounds and not others?

The Art Of Sampling

Usually when you sample, it's going to be something with a melody. You might use it as is and just loop it while you throw drums on top along with some other sounds, or you can cut it up into small pieces and make something completely unrecognisable. Or is it?

Most of the time when I sample something, I rip the sample apart and try to piece it back together in a brand new way. I find this technique to be the most challenging, but also the most fun because it takes a lot of time to come up with a decent pattern. It's also because I was a big fan of The Bomb Squad back in the day when Hank Shocklee led the way and produced countless hits for Public Enemy. The way that they stacked layers of samples together, some as tiny as a fraction of a second, was genius.

And this is where the questions begin to arise.

Is It Really Sampling?

Take for example, a drum loop. We've all sampled drums and we've all chopped them up into pieces so we could get our Kick, Snare, and Hat separate so we could then create our own drum pattern. Technically, we sampled those drum sounds - so how come we can get away with it?

The Skull Snaps drum loop and James Brown's "Funky Drummer" are two of the most recognized drum pieces ever. And they've been sampled tons of times by Hip Hop producers all over the globe. Those loops were chopped up and reused but how come some producers had to clear the samples and others didn't?

It's Easily Recognizable

The reason why one producer has to clear a sample of Funky Drummer and another producer doesn't, is all whether or not the sample being used can be recognized. Silly, isn't it? I know lots of people will argue that the original artists worked their asses off to compose/create/produce that piece of music - but I'm not talking about that.

It seems that sampling drums is not on the radar for the record industry when they're looking to sue people, but anything else is open for a lawsuit. It's not necessarily about whether or not one producer masked and morphed a drum snare and another producer didn't - it's more or less a question of just - why?

Is It All Fair Game?

If you listen to a DJ breakbeat record, it's full of samples that DJ's can use to scratch. Technically, you're not allowed to sample any of those sounds and use them in your own productions because of, well, THE LAW. But if a DJ were to take a sound from that record and scratch it, which is then recorded on top of some beat that I did - is that allowed? What if the sound is unrecognisable?

Let's say you're a keyboardist and you play a 3-note synth part, which is then recorded. Then I come along and take your recording, chop it up, and make it my own - is that okay? Because you took a synth sound from your keyboard, so then aren't I doing the same thing you are? The only difference is that you created a composition, but then so did I, by using yours. Yes, that's the way copyrighting works, but the question is if I have to clear a 1 bar sample, then how come I can get away with not clearing a fraction of a second sample?

I've lifted samples from a record that were then chopped up into little bits. I then took a small part and then played my own melody with it, to where it was completely unrecognisable. Even though I got away with not having to clear my sample, couldn't I then turn around and sue someone for sampling my composition!?!? Even though that composition I made was based on a sample that I didn't pay for?

Sampling is a funny thing because some producers will take almost an entire song or loop and just use it like that, while others will chop their samples into oblivion. Yet, some samples get cleared, others don't, and some are used as compositions that are then filed as copyright!

The whole sampling game is extremely flawed and I think that it's all based on interpretation. I could walk around my neighbourhood with a portable recorder and just record someone's footsteps as they walk by, then use those footsteps as part of an intro on my next production. Does that mean I have to pay that person royalties because I sampled their footsteps?

Let the debate begin...

Further Reading Related to Sampling

 
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slik da relic

RS Jedi
Battle Points: 1
its almost as if i wqrote this.. lol.. but thats why i chop, AND THEN manipulate the sample.. bcuz im not tryin to clear jack! nor am i wantin to hear that u know where the sample came from.. and im gonna sue the next guy that samples MY rendition of the sample.. lol.
 

2GooD Productions

Its a fucking conspiracy!
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 328
the answer is simple....greedy rights owners.
There was a story the other day where some labels tried to claim ownership of of some song from the 1800's. Silent night or something like that.
The guy who made a cover of the song on youtube had his earnings sent to the music companies because of a stupid automated system that youtube uses.
Its FUCKING CRIMINAL. FUCK THE RECORD LABELS AND SAMPLE FREELY.
FUCK THEIR GREED, IVE HAD ENOUGH!!!
Can you tell?
 

Johan Brodd

Member
Battle Points: 1
It seams that sampling has lost it's charm due to all these greedy bastards, who A has enough money to spare, and B can't get enough of that drug. That's why I prefer to buy a 3rd party sample library that has all the rights cleared so I can use them with a clean conscious mind.
 

A.R. DASUPASTAR

A.R. DASUPASTAR
Battle Points: 71
So if I chopped up samples in small parts and ultered the pitch with other effects, could I still be sued? I like to emulate Pete Rock's style and take sampled instruments from like 5 different songs of different genres and play my own melody.
 

Fade

The Beat Hamster
Administrator
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
So if I chopped up samples in small parts and ultered the pitch with other effects, could I still be sued? I like to emulate Pete Rock's style and take sampled instruments from like 5 different songs of different genres and play my own melody.
Technically, yes. That's what's so weird about the law. Anything you sample is illegal unless you get permission, so it doesn't matter how you flip the sample. But lots of people get away with what you described. It's like where I mentioned about sampling a drum snare. It's just a snare but I've never heard of anyone getting sued over a snare.
 

A.R. DASUPASTAR

A.R. DASUPASTAR
Battle Points: 71
Technically, yes. That's what's so weird about the law. Anything you sample is illegal unless you get permission, so it doesn't matter how you flip the sample. But lots of people get away with what you described. It's like where I mentioned about sampling a drum snare. It's just a snare but I've never heard of anyone getting sued over a snare.
that makes sense
 

D1G

Newbie
the answer is simple....greedy rights owners.
There was a story the other day where some labels tried to claim ownership of of some song from the 1800's. Silent night or something like that.
The guy who made a cover of the song on youtube had his earnings sent to the music companies because of a stupid automated system that youtube uses.
Its FUCKING CRIMINAL. FUCK THE RECORD LABELS AND SAMPLE FREELY.
FUCK THEIR GREED, IVE HAD ENOUGH!!!
Can you tell?
It really is.... I mean, if they sing happy birthday in a movie, or some big (yet shitty) rapper mentions Lindsay Lohan, he gets sued, whereas (not criticizing, in fact, I’m a stan of MF DOOM), MF DOOM, no mainstream, Whodini, who is somewhat well known in Deep Fried Friends. Either that or their just idiots ( cause, Eminem in his prime dissed celebs even worse, than stating that they got arrested, and using it as a forced, cheesy reference.) One day, I plan to try to get governments across the world to acknowledge that 90% of the time, sampling is fair, artistic use. (I’m aware I commented on concern over use of a sample only a bit earlier, but I still think it is wrong to sue people for stuff like this
 
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Beaubeats

Beau Beats
Battle Points: 2
I rarely sample anything today because of all the automated systems designed to sniff out samples. Clearing a sample is time consuming and costly too. I think the reason it was done so much back in the day was because hip hop wasn't the most popular genre in the world. It was easy to get away with stealing other peoples work, bending it, pitching it and creating something new from it. But at the end of the day, another artists work was the inspiration and audio source used to make a sampled beat. Even if you chop it up to be undetectable you are still using something that is protected by international copyright laws. So if you turn around and sell it they have every legal right to claim a percentage of the earnings. Everyone knows this today and they know it while creating that beat. A judge will always see that as theft (regardless of how the producer community feels about it) and they can take all your rights to that artwork if they feel the need to.
They also did not have access to half the tools and sounds we have today to make beats. Like every industry, audio production has leveled up ten times that of 20 years ago. It is extremely easy to get the programs and sounds you need to make beats. It is extremely easy to find the help videos, tutorials and instructions also. The hard part is creating those famous melodies that stay popular for 50 years without sampling.
The best bet (if you like keeping your work as your own) is to use one of the services that has cleared samples to use in your tracks so the law cant catch up with you. Or, use audio that is in the public domain and can not be claimed by any individual.
The only time i really sample is when Im in the studio making a custom beat on the spot and don't feel like spending time on a melody that the artist may not like. Much easier for me to go through melodic samples, have the artist get inspired then build the beat around the main melody they latched onto. I may not even end up using the sample once i recreate it with another instrument or a vst if i get the same vibe from it.
At first it seems like greed but when you look closer it is usually just people trying to protect their intellectual property. Families and next of kin are still being paid for things made in the 30's. If something of mine ever earns like that I would want the same protections for my children and grandchildren in the future. If someone took my beat, chopped it up and the song blew up you better believe I'm getting my money. The same laws that protect them protect us and our art.
 

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