Banner Ad

IS SAMPLING 'ART' OR 'PLAGIARISM'?

Early sampling artists simply used portions of other artists' recordings without permission, but once music incorporating samples began to make significant money,...

Have you ever turned on the radio, heard a song for the first time, and thought there was something vaguely familiar about parts of it? Well, you may have been listening to what today is termed “sampling.” Over the last couple of decades, it has become an increasingly popular way to make music. Sampling is simply the extraction of fragments from existing musical works, which are used in the composition of creative, new pieces. One can immediately see why it has engendered a number of copyright litigation cases.

Early sampling artists simply used portions of other artists’ recordings without permission, but once music incorporating samples began to make significant money, some sampled artists, publishers, and record companies began to take legal action, claiming copyright infringement.

One example that caught the headlines once was the hit song “Please don’t stop the music” by Rihanna. Parts of the song had been sampled from Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit “Wanna be startin’ something” for which Rihanna claims she sought his permission. However, it turns out that Jackson had, himself, sampled that fragment from “Soul Makossa”, by Afro funk jazzman Manu Dibango from Cameroon. First recorded in 1972, it is considered by many to be the first disco song. Manu Dibango, now 75 years old, is suing both Jackson and Rihanna for copyright infringement in the French courts.