Sampology-From HIPHOP Sampling Culture to Discuss Copyright

The Documentary “COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS”  is consists of  abundant interviewing scenes for copyright issues

Calling to remembrance,in the teenager period, I  grew up in a 90’s music where the HIPHOP music is  thrving  and nearly dominated in the mainstream  music industry, the astonishing performing techniques and beats spontaneously motive me to buy their CDs.  At that moment I was obessed with this kind of genre. The reason that makes me feel incredible about the music  is their melodies are sometimes  smooth, but somewhat cooperate with heavy punchy drums.  I was not doubted with this kind of creative music, personally comprehences that they composed and created the music by themselves.  But eventually I realized the music was done by some former musicians, and they just took the part of the music and chopped it up to create their own music, which is a creative way of making music in a sense, isn’t it ?   Speaking to the main topic, after viewing the documentary “Copyright Criminal” in my country(That was 1 year ago), I was still confused about the copyright law , what i mean was ,in which circumstances did the copyright protect the musicians ? what is wrong with the musicians took the fragments of other musician’s work into a brand new vibe and rhythms?

As you may know,copyright was built in 1976 by the Copyright ACT, which is a strict regulation for maintaining  creative workers’ original idea in terms of music, visual work, play, etc……. but what should we aware of this trend is, the music production, due to the revolution of digitalization, it is simple for everybody to make music without instruments, as well as neglecting the knowledge of basic learning skills(eg:tunes, rhythm). Let’s say, all of a sudden, it seems like making music are no longer required sophisticated recording equipment, or   any piano, every since you turn on the music software, and press record button, and upload the work, you could be a musician.


In spite of the Copyright ACT could be a major approach to monitor musicians who stealing the fragment or looping from somebody’s original recordings, the Electronic Dance Music still aries and dominates in the commercial market, which is the biggest genre that has sampled other musicians’ work  in the music industry. Undoubtedly, the two contradictions whether sampling is not a crime or vice versa are the endless debate, people who support taking other music parts from other musicians argue that this behavior is the creative way of making music, while others consider of this incorrect conduct of stealing their intellectual properties should be taken into lawsuit.

The fighting would never cease, however, in my opinion, what I consider is the effection part of the music , let’s take citation  for an example, we could referencing or quoting a hook or a sentence in the book, why don’t we quote or take a note or melody to show our dedication to the original music workers? plus it will not only give audiences a brand new experience in compare with original musicians work, but also may increase the sales of both of the works. For instance, Rihanna ‘s famous hit “Please Don’t Stop the Music” contains the sample from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”. Apparently Michael is the pop music veterans, but due to the influence of “Please Don’t Stop the Music” , M.J’s single could be distributed and reissued again to create a whole new sales, this would be a new concept of sampling  music phenomenon in the future prospect.

“A good composer does not imitate, he steals”-Igor Stravinsky

RIHANA -“Please Don’t Stop the Music”

Michael Jackson-“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”


2 thoughts on “Sampology-From HIPHOP Sampling Culture to Discuss Copyright

  1. Hi Yella, I too have wondered how copyright works in the world of music, given all the sampling which goes on in the industry. In India I know that for decades, the IP laws have been much less stringent and the director of the film has historically owned the rights to the reproduction of any bollywood music soundtracks used in ring tones, samples or adverts etc as opposed to the music directors themselves who have lost out on any royalties (I come from a family of Bollywood music directors and have grown up with their plight!).Your ideas to 1) reference or cite the original composer and 2) re-release the original off the back of the success of the newly sampled track are both excellent and very clever suggestions. Maybe worth putting these ideas forward to some music companies to find out their thoughts? Really interesting read, thank you for sharing.

    • The answer is affirmative for the citation part of music, I have read some articles of Bollywood music and other what we called “re-edit” music, which means extract songs or lyrics, even the structure to make a new song,and it sometimes remove some sectors of the original recording. Re-edited works are quite usual to be seen in the Electronic-Based music, unfortunately, the re-edited authors still need to pay small percentage of fees to the original works to the original artists. and this IP LAWS concept is the same as the law “Fair Use” in some countries like America, they can sample their works but actually need to state their name in the album somewhere. And this action would probably give credits and royalty to the original creative musicians. Thank you for sharing the information, appreciated it!

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