Over the past few months, we’ve discussed various sampling issues with some of the biggest names in hip hop. While obscure samples are harder to clear/easier to not clear because of their hidden nature, the bigger the sampling artist, the likelier they are to be subject to a lawsuit. Indie musicians don’t have the luxury of a large budget and so sampling without clearances is a dodgy line to walk along. To keep yourself from getting caught out, former indie blog Do Androids Dance (now part of Complex) have written up a list of five helpful suggestions for sample-based producers. Here’s one of them:
Identify the rights’ holders and ask permission
It is difficult to clear samples, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Don’t just assume you won’t get permission until you ask. You’re trying to make it in the music business so you should be accustomed to trying to do difficult things. Still, you should be aware that if you ask permission and it’s denied and you release your track anyway you are potentially facing damages for “willful infringement.”
Don’t forget to seek permission from both the owner of the copyright in the recording, which is typically a label, and the owner of the copyright in the composition, which typically a publisher. Sometimes both are owned by the same individual or entity, but remember you have to get permission to use both the recording and the composition.
The rest is mostly legal suggestions you might want to consider before sampling without clearances.