Written by Luke Alex Davis 12:05 am Sampling

How Music Sampling is Different from Stealing

Sampling is a creative tool for music composition. But is it really theft? Dr. E. Michael Harrington clarified things in a video for Berklee Online.

You wouldn't steal a sample

We’ve touched on whether the concept of sampling is lazy or creative a few years ago (spoiler alert: sampling is creative but producers can be lazy with it). But, for many, sampling is theft. Or is it?

In a video for Berklee Online, the online school of Berklee College of Music, course author Dr. E. Michael Harrington discussed music sampling, its early days involving lifting samples without permissions, and how the artform has evolved since then. But that hasn’t stopped the issue of copyright infringements that plague the discipline (just ask Kraftwerk, Kanye West, Stones Throw, and Def Jam).

Amongst the discussions, Dr Harrington refers to the landmark case that changed sampling forever, between Gilbert O’Sullivan and Biz Markie, and the procedures musicians need to follow in order to clear samples and avoid lawsuits.

Further reading

Stream the video below.

How Copyright Works: How Sampling is Different from Stealing | Berklee Online