Just when you think nothing else can possibly go wrong, the Universe decides to throw yet another curve ball, and this comeback lark is starting to feel like trying to do a triathlon in a straitjacket.
What am I talking about ? Sampling that's what and the latest dilemma to halt the process. You can't think of Hiphop without sampling, it's the lifeblood that flows through its veins and yet the future of Hiphop is in jeopardy and set to get far worse thanks to the digital age, meaning that even Fred Bloggs with 3 followers isn't immune from being sued if he samples a track without clearance from all parties involved before posting it online, digital technology means that it's far easier to pick up any suspected copyright infringements these days .
When I talk about ALL parties, this means you could get permission off the songwriter, but then the songwriter may not actually own the song, it could be the publisher or record company, so getting permission from one party still leaves you open to being sued from the other parties .....Phew! are you still with me? Maybe back in the day this wouldn't have bothered me, in fact it didn't, I've always been happy to take my chances.....until now.
As I've already stated it's becoming far more common for anyone whether your famous or not to be sued these days, if you're using a sample without permission, and we're talking big bucks and court cases that can go on for years, and even if your sneaky use of a sample isn't picked up straight away you can still be nabbed years later. Some of the most famous cases are De La Soul and their album "3 Feet High and Rising" they used an array of samples including a 12 second snippet from The Turtles track "You Showed me" from 1969. When De La Soul released their album in 89, former Turtle members sued the band which was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed figure but rumoured to be $1.7million.
Another famous case is the Beastie Boys 1989 album "Paul's Boutique" said to contain up to 300 samples, and while the album was a flop at the time it's gone on to become an iconic hiphop album Their recording engineer Mario Calato Jr has said they paid £195.000 in clearance fees but because the list of samples used is so long they are still getting sued today. Other cases have seen Jay-Z & Timberland , 50 cent, kendrick Lamar, Biz Markie, Chance the rapper, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Kanye West, Emnem, to name but a few, and every year more and more artists are being sued for sampling, it's becoming so common, that as soon as one case finishes another begins