Discussion Questions

In your opinion is Sampling Legal?
Is this promoting the sampled artist?

Is this good for the music industry?
Any of your favorite songs use samples?
Sampling is widely considered the start of Hip-Hop...Agree or Disagree?


What Is Music Sampling? Music sampling is the process by which a musician or record producer uses a portion of an existing song in a brand new recording, looping it and layering it with new music in a new context.

THS Alumni that found their passion after taking Music Technology

To legally use a sample, an artist must acquire legal permission from the copyright holder, a potentially lengthy and complex process known as clearance. Sampling without permission can breach the copyright of the original sound recording, of the composition and lyrics, and of the performances, such as a rhythm or guitar riff. The moral rights of the original artist may also be breached if they are not credited or object to the sampling. In some cases, sampling is protected under American fair use laws, which grant "limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder".


Copyrighted, unlicensed music samples must be short in comparison to the original song. As a rule of thumb, samples should not exceed 30 seconds or 10% of the length of the original song, whichever is shorter.

Under U.S. copyright law, you do not have to obtain sample clearance if your sample is so altered that it does not infringe on the original, or your use is a fair one.

What Is Fair Use?

Fair use is the right to copy a portion of a copyrighted work without permission because your use is for a limited purpose, such as for educational use in a classroom or to comment upon, criticize, or parody the work being sampled.

Factors in determining fair use. When reviewing fair use questions, courts primarily look for three factors:

  • You did not take a substantial amount of the original work (say, ten seconds of a song versus 60 seconds).
  • You transformed the material in some way (for instance, you added new base sounds to a melody).
  • You did not cause significant financial harm to the copyright owner (perhaps you are using a bit of classical music in your heavy metal rock song, which appeals to a different market).

Copyright Act of 1976
According to the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended in 1998, works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected by copyright for 70 years after the creator’s death.
To read more about the Copyright Act of 1976 CLICK HERE

Sampling - Legal? or Shhhh don't tell anyone

If you need this website translated 

In Music Technology I you will be required to work independently and have time management skills with each project.

Topics include but not limited to:

Basics of a Sound System, Audio Effects, MIDI Sequencing, Audio Sequencing
Composing, Arranging , Podcasting, Remixing, Film Scoring & Live Performance using Technology,



Birth of Hip Hop & Sampling 

Vanilla Ice v. Queen and David Bowie. Tracks 9 & 10 

Queen and David Bowie sued Vanilla Ice claiming that the bass line in "Ice Ice Baby" was a direct copy of "Under Pressure." Vanilla Ice argued that they weren't the same because he added an extra beat. The court ruled in Queen and Bowie's favor and Vanilla Ice had to pay an undisclosed sum. 


Roy Orbison v. 2 LiveR Crew. Tracks 13 & 14 

Roy Orbison sued 2 Live Crew saying that their use of his song "Oh Pretty Woman" in their song just called "Pretty Woman" was infringement. 2 Live Crew did use the full recording of his song, but they rapped over it, changing the meaning to something humorous. This is another case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that, while it is the same song, it was not infringement because it was a parody, which is transformative and often a form of criticism, therefore a fair use. This decision is a precedent that protects all other parody artists like Weird Al Yankovic


Music Infringement Cases