“I need a unit to sample and hold. But not the angry one. A new design.” Sample and Hold, music and lyrics by Neil Young
Digital sampling has become a staple of the recording industry. What’s sampling? It’s taking a snippet from one recording and splicing it into a new one. Typically, the sample is just a few bars, even a few notes. And it’s likewise typical for the producers and artists to digitally tweak those few bars or notes to alter their pitch or key and adding additional embellishments. As often or not, the listener is unaware that the “new” recording includes a “re-purposed” sample.
But is it kosher to lift a fragment from one copyrighted recording and implant into a new one? That question has produced judicial sparring that rivals the most thorny of Talmudic conundrums.