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by kenn on 9/14/2004 08:10:00 PM

All Samples Will Be Paid For

In a federal appeals court, a three-judge panel ruled that rap artists would now have to pay for unrecognizable samples used in their songs.

A lower court had previously ruled that artists must pay for sampling older recordings, yet it was still legal to use notes if the sample wasn't identifiable. The court said that federal laws instilled to stop piracy of digital recordings apply to sampling.

"If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you 'lift' or 'sample' something less than the whole? Our answer to that question is in the negative," the court stated. "Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."

At least 800 lawsuits have been filed in Nashville court for sampling old records to create new tracks. The case centered around N.W.A.'s "100 Miles And Runnin'," which samples two seconds of a guitar riff from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic's "Get Off Yo Ass." Interestingly, Clinton has never been opposed to sampling and has worked with several Hip-Hop stars such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and OutKast. The song was featured in No Limit Films' 1998 flick, "I Got The Hook Up," which stars founder Master P. No Limit contends that copyright laws did not cover the sample.

Two years ago, a lower court ruled that the song was entitled copyright protection, but that the sample "did not rise to the level of legally cognizable appropriation." On the other hand, the appeals court said that artists that acknowledge their samples might be liable even when the snippet is unrecognizable. Since No Limit Films acknowledged the sampling, the case was thrown back to lower court.

The new sampling laws might change the complexion of production in years to come. In recent years, Kanye West, Just Blaze and 9th Wonder have risen to prominence by sampling old recordings while DJ Premier has made a career out of chopping old records into unrecognizable new cuts. Over the years, certain producers have also adopted the habit of not listing samples in album credits.

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