Sampling and legal stuff
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Old 07-26-2016, 01:21 PM   #1
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Sampling and legal stuff

Hey guys,

I just spent around 2-4 hours on reading stuff about the copyright laws of UK and US. And now I think I am getting depressed here.

I understand that sampling is quite grey area, and it's hard to draw the line. But I want to hear what you guys think.

Example: I listen to some ambient, and I notice a cool vocal sound effect on it. I sample that, put it to my mix, crank up some delays/reverbs and eq + pitch down the sound. Am I breaking the law?

Example2: I find a vocal track and sample several different words from it, and play with them so I can arrange them as my lead (not talking about my sig song). Am I breaking the law?

In both cases yes, I am using someone elses property, but if I transform the sample in a way that it's almost recognizable, am I breaking the law?
I am starting to get a feeling that I can't use anything as a musical inspiration anymore.

EDIT: Should I just not give a fuck?

Last edited by Johnson Academy; 07-26-2016 at 02:02 PM..

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Old 07-26-2016, 02:02 PM   #2
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

Simplest solution is to not get caught.


It's been working for years. Well, except when it hasn't.


My first release on a label had a manipulated vocal sample. This was in 2011. I've not yet been sued or arrested, and I've had people/listeners spot the source.

How big do you expect said release to be/how far do you think it will go?

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Old 07-26-2016, 02:21 PM   #3
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Originally Posted by chasedobson View Post
Simplest solution is to not get caught.


It's been working for years. Well, except when it hasn't.


My first release on a label had a manipulated vocal sample. This was in 2011. I've not yet been sued or arrested, and I've had people/listeners spot the source.

How big do you expect said release to be/how far do you think it will go?
Thanks for your response!

What did the label think of your uncleared sample? Like overall, are labels usually enforcing the copyright laws regarding sampling or ignoring them? This is a big one for me, since small labels are a major channel of exposure for me.

The release I am talking about will be relatively small and free to download. Only money is from royalties. Extra question: Is this sort of release considered commercial or non-commercial?

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Old 07-26-2016, 02:32 PM   #4
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

If you are selling it, it's commercial. I don't know how you might make royalties on a song you're not selling... That said I'm no lawyer. I lift samples from all sorts of sources. I rarely give it a second thought.

In my case the label likely knew the source, but I wasn't exactly forthcoming. I had cut out the transients and replayed the vox sample on drum pads, but it was clearly lifted from Opus 3 "it's a fine day" (if you heard the orig and mine you'd spot it too), which Orbital previously lifted for their epic "halcyon and on and on"

I also granulated the source sample and made pads and atmospheres from it.

The tune came out on a comp and also on my record, both sold units and made both the label and me some cash. If it came up in court I'd likely be found guilty and then.. Who knows? I'd have to give like 800 bucks or something to Opus 3... (I've not made millions on this sample)

My 2 cents, which have little regard to the law says, just do it.


Like Nike.

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Old 07-26-2016, 02:38 PM   #5
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Originally Posted by chasedobson View Post
If you are selling it, it's commercial. I don't know how you might make royalties on a song you're not selling... That said I'm no lawyer. I lift samples from all sorts of sources. I rarely give it a second thought.

In my case the label likely knew the source, but I wasn't exactly forthcoming. I had cut out the transients and replayed the vox sample on drum pads, but it was clearly lifted from Opus 3 "it's a fine day" (if you heard the orig and mine you'd spot it too), which Orbital previously lifted for their epic "halcyon and on and on"

I also granulated the source sample and made pads and atmospheres from it.

The tune came out on a comp and also on my record, both sold units and made both the label and me some cash. If it came up in court I'd likely be found guilty and then.. Who knows? I'd have to give like 800 bucks or something to Opus 3... (I've not made millions on this sample)

My 2 cents, which have little regard to the law says, just do it.


Like Nike.
Yeah, thought about this quite a lot. Maybe it's the amount of plays or something that generates some money?

Honestly I would be suprised if it goes over 1 dollar

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Old 07-26-2016, 03:27 PM   #6
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Honestly I would be suprised if it goes over 1 dollar


just put it out then. your sample source cant sue you for money you didnt make on your release.

its art. just do it.

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Old 07-26-2016, 04:14 PM   #7
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

Just get in contact with the original artist and ask them if you're that worried. I've done that before when we covered a song. Label said ok, just say it's a cover by XXXXX. If the people you are sampling are into sampling themselves, I don't see how they'd be against it.
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Old 07-26-2016, 04:44 PM   #8
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Just get in contact with the original artist and ask them if you're that worried. I've done that before when we covered a song. Label said ok, just say it's a cover by XXXXX. If the people you are sampling are into sampling themselves, I don't see how they'd be against it.
Well, that could clear the one sample, but the reason I wrote this was more about sampling in general. I love to search and find sounds I can sample. Having to get clearance on every sound I sample would be extremely painful process.

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Old 07-26-2016, 04:56 PM   #9
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Originally Posted by Johnson Academy View Post
I understand that sampling is quite grey area, and it's hard to draw the line. But I want to hear what you guys think.
What we think doesn't matter, what matters is what the law thinks.

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Originally Posted by Johnson Academy View Post
Example: I listen to some ambient, and I notice a cool vocal sound effect on it. I sample that, put it to my mix, crank up some delays/reverbs and eq + pitch down the sound. Am I breaking the law?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnson Academy View Post
Example2: I find a vocal track and sample several different words from it, and play with them so I can arrange them as my lead (not talking about my sig song). Am I breaking the law?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnson Academy View Post
In both cases yes, I am using someone elses property, but if I transform the sample in a way that it's almost recognizable, am I breaking the law?
Yes.

Making sure you're unlikely to get caught for a crime does not make it legal. That's like asking "I wore a mask when I robbed the grocery store, did I break the law?"

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I am starting to get a feeling that I can't use anything as a musical inspiration anymore.
Maybe don't steal content but record your own vocals.

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Having to get clearance on every sound I sample would be extremely painful process.
"Having to work a day job so I can buy my food instead of stealing it would be an extremely painful process." "The law is inconvenient for me so I just ignore it whenever I feel like it."

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I like how IDMF gets in a hissy fit whenever someone new comes over and mentions torrenting plugins, but we're totally chill when half of our users regularly break international copyright law - and not just steal content, claim it as their own creative output. Nice double standards.

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Old 07-26-2016, 05:07 PM   #10
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Making sure you're unlikely to get caught for a crime does not make it legal. That's like asking "I wore a mask when I robbed the grocery store, did I break the law?"
A bit harsh comparison

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Originally Posted by Blingley View Post
I like how IDMF gets in a hissy fit whenever someone new comes over and mentions torrenting plugins, but we're totally chill when half of our users regularly break international copyright law - and not just steal content, claim it as their own creative output. Nice double standards.
I am definetly no expert, but in US they have "Fair Use", and in UK they don't have (at least the same name).

"Factors in determining fair use. Generally, when reviewing fair use questions, courts look for three things:

You did not take a substantial amount of the original work.
You transformed the material in some way.
You did not cause significant financial harm to the copyright owner."

So this is where the "if I modify it enough is it ok?" question comes. This is why I am interested in UK laws too.

Last edited by Johnson Academy; 07-26-2016 at 06:07 PM.. Reason: Some edits.

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Old 07-26-2016, 05:13 PM   #11
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

You might not get sued if it's on Bandcamp, but you'll probably have to delete it / destroy physical copies etc like that vaporwave douche who stole an entire album from Solar Fields and slowed it down.

Any real manipulation (strong IMO) with work put into it should render the sample semi-unrecognizable anyway, but even that's not legal. If someone tells you to just steal shit and call it your own, though, that's a little questionable.

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Old 07-26-2016, 05:14 PM   #12
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

Quote:
I like how IDMF gets in a hissy fit whenever someone new comes over and mentions torrenting plugins, but we're totally chill when half of our users regularly break international copyright law - and not just steal content, claim it as their own creative output. Nice double standards.
If I download illegaly a plugin, that means that I don't have to buy that plugin anymore. If I sample one word of Katy Perrys voice, it doesn't reduce the demand of the original track.

EDIT: Not saying that it's legal, more sayin that the analogy is not that great

Last edited by Johnson Academy; 07-26-2016 at 05:35 PM..

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Old 07-26-2016, 06:20 PM   #13
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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A bit harsh comparison.
Maybe, but apt.

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"Fair Use"
Whether or not anything falls under the fair use doctrine is a question of whether or not you can afford to be locked in a 5+ year legal battle against a major label, who would think nothing of throwing a few millions in legal fees, few million in bribes, and few millions in getting officials elected that would enact laws that fuck you over. The only situation in which "Fair Use" is worth even bringing up is when two major labels quarrel between themselves.

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If I download illegaly a plugin, that means that I don't have to buy that plugin anymore. If I sample one word of Katy Perrys voice, it doesn't reduce the demand of the original track.
Brainwash successful: Subject has internalized the values of the capitalist society, and evaluates everything on the basis of economic benefit.

This literally does not matter worth shit. Whoever is the copyright owner owns that intellectual property, and they get to decide who uses it, listens to it, alters it, hears it or masturbates furiously to it. They could release music only pressed on cheese vinyl, with instructions to eat the disc after listening, and that would be their right - because it's their property. The argument that "it doesn't reduce the demand blahblah" is like saying "I should be allowed to sleep in this guys basement because he doesn't use it anyway". Just because there is no apparent harm doesn't mean they own their property any less.

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Old 07-26-2016, 06:33 PM   #14
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

From my perspective, as a somewhat older person, sampling took off on a blitzkreig in the 1990s because the laws hadn't really dealt with it yet. So there were tons of artists sampling with their new AKAI and E-Mu samplers (etc) which had just been manufactured.

That era is totally over and the legal system and the corporations have clamped down on sampling more even though the technology of sampling has gotten a lot easier and cheaper.

But the way out for samplists is to buy professional grade royalty-free samples from Big Fish Audio, etc. And of course, get a field recorder and make your own samples. You can also use your DAW to sample VST instruments so there's really a lot of room to still be creative.

There's even ways to emulate the low-grade vinyl sound so that's not an issue either.

And of course there's still lots and lots of freeware royalty-free free one-shot samples and soundfonts.

A person can stay legal and still get a lot done with music and it's more true to the nature of composition and not just cloning somebody else's hard work and teamwork.

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Old 07-26-2016, 06:37 PM   #15
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Maybe, but apt.
You think bankrobbery compared to sampling is apt?

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...or masturbates furiously to it.
Why do you have to ruin everything in my life?

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Old 07-26-2016, 07:04 PM   #16
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Originally Posted by Nystagmus View Post
From my perspective, as a somewhat older person, sampling took off on a blitzkreig in the 1990s because the laws hadn't really dealt with it yet. So there were tons of artists sampling with their new AKAI and E-Mu samplers (etc) which had just been manufactured.

That era is totally over and the legal system and the corporations have clamped down on sampling more even though the technology of sampling has gotten a lot easier and cheaper.

But the way out for samplists is to buy professional grade royalty-free samples from Big Fish Audio, etc. And of course, get a field recorder and make your own samples. You can also use your DAW to sample VST instruments so there's really a lot of room to still be creative.

There's even ways to emulate the low-grade vinyl sound so that's not an issue either.

And of course there's still lots and lots of freeware royalty-free free one-shot samples and soundfonts.

A person can stay legal and still get a lot done with music and it's more true to the nature of composition and not just cloning somebody else's hard work and teamwork.
Damn, this is good stuff! I feel really dumb since it didn't even cross my mind to check the commercial sample packs OR to search thru my synth presets and fuck around. There must be some good stuff there.

Thanks.

Also field recorders don't seem to be that high on price that I tought they were (like 300+ dollars).

Big thanks!

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Old 07-26-2016, 07:33 PM   #17
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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Brainwash successful: Subject has internalized the values of the capitalist society, and evaluates everything on the basis of economic benefit.
This is such bullshit! You tried to pull the same arguments in that kraftwerk thread and it is so completely backward that it hurts my brain to think that you can say that kind of garbage with a straight face. The OP's argument is that his misuse of sound in a creative context is in no way a slight to the origin of the sound. And some how you reduce that to capitalist hegemony wtf!
The real hypocrisy here is people who listen to music that makes extensive use of sampling with no qualms yet have the nerve the call users of the forum all kinds of idiotic things if they discuss using the same tools!

Edit: and what is the driving force behind almost all copyright court cases? Capitalist lawyers! Even the stones admitted that they would've settled for much less in the verve lawsuits were it not for lawyers!

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Old 07-26-2016, 07:36 PM   #18
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

And if my rant wasn't enough to make my view clear on this I think it gets done in every kind of music nowadays, if your stuff sounds exactly like the source then your first concern should be your intellectual laziness regardless of the sample source.
And yeah sample packs, field recorders are great but so is YouTube, TV, movies etc. Sound is sound, it's up to you how to use it creatively.

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Old 07-26-2016, 08:21 PM   #19
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

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This is such bullshit! You tried to pull the same arguments in that kraftwerk thread and it is so completely backward that it hurts my brain to think that you can say that kind of garbage with a straight face. The OP's argument is that his misuse of sound in a creative context is in no way a slight to the origin of the sound. And some how you reduce that to capitalist hegemony wtf!
So, you literally cannot understand the fact that I may have rights that are not about the protection of my financial assets, but of my creative work? That I may not want people sampling my work and using it, even if it meant I'd earn more money. You are completely disregarding the fact that music may, in fact, be a form of art and make a statement and that I might not want that statement to be twisted by others. And doing so, you assume that the only reason any of us make music to begin with is in order to receive monetary compensation. Essentially, you're trying to reduce everything to the financial aspect of it. That is internalizing the values of the capitalistic society, where money trumps everything.

The fact that you cannot even see that is honestly quite alarming. And frankly, quite insulting.

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The real hypocrisy here is people who listen to music that makes extensive use of sampling with no qualms yet have the nerve the call users of the forum all kinds of idiotic things if they discuss using the same tools!
That's like saying that drug addicts blaming dealers is hypocritical. Maybe, but there would be no addicts if there were no dealers. And furthermore, people could just do it legally if they paid for clearance. But a whole lot of musicians are just too lazy or unprepared to pay for the right of using the work of someone else to care.

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Edit: and what is the driving force behind almost all copyright court cases? Capitalist lawyers! Even the stones admitted that they would've settled for much less in the verve lawsuits were it not for lawyers!
Yes. Copyright laws were created to protect artists and innovators, and have been exploited by corporate power and lawyers for a while now, is this anything new? Claiming that the law itself is a problem is preposterous, it is akin to: "There should be no law against rape because people who are rich get off with lower sentences since they can hire better lawyers!". The problem is not the laws: It's the legal system, where you can easily manipulate juries (in the US) and stall until people who cannot afford ridiculous legal fees cannot compete anymore (just about everywhere).

The problem is widescale financial corruption, and if it needs to be dealt with, passing required transparency laws (private ownership, court proceedings, legislation, political backing and funding), keeping investors legally responsible for the acts of the companies they own (beyond the stock price), bringing key areas outside the bounds of for-profit industries (education, healthcare, medical R&D, arms manufacture) and having more direct democracy where governments cannot pass laws against the common interests. This would be a subject for another thread, if you want to start it.

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Old 07-26-2016, 08:51 PM   #20
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Re: Sampling and legal stuff

Again reducing others arguments.
I don't make money off my music and don't intend to, nor do I claim it to be some kind of piece of intellectual property akin to the tesla motors engine! If you make music for ANYTHING other than your own fun then you are the one with illusions of grandeur.
This is the last I will post about this because, as in North American politics, we can only entrench each other deeper into our camps, so I will go make sample based music while you write some kind of anarchic music manifesto a la Refused, or whatever you might think of yourself!

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