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Is sampling a song considered stealing?

You may not realize this but some of the greatest minds of the music industry sample music from other artists – but isn’t that stealing? Lyrical patterns are often repeated by many artists because of the limitations of the art medium. In other words, artists reuse other artists’ musical patterns since there’s only a limited number of melodies and chord progressions.

Music has a history of sampling – rap and hip-hop are often known to be one of the biggest genres for artists to sample from others. But sampling can come with legal consequences. Here’s what you should know:

Copyright infringement in the music industry

One of the biggest things artists fear is finding out the song they poured their heart into has already been made – and by someone who knows their copyright laws.

Copyright laws protect artists from having their work stolen and used without their permission. This could mean having a product reproduced, sold or altered without the owner’s agreement could infringe on their copyright protection. While sampling may not explicitly be stated in copyright laws, it may be considered a form of reproduction and alternation of a song, text or speech.

Musicians may try to get around copyright laws by giving credit to other artists who they inspired and sampled. In some legal eyes, the use of sampling may be seen as fair use.

Many artists over the years have had problems with their songs being taken, likewise, many emerging artists don’t realize their music is infringing on copyright laws. This may be a growing problem for a booming industry. If someone believes you are infringing on a copyright, you may need to reach out for legal help.