Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

First Page



Copyright law governing digital music sampling is faced with two competing interests: first, the owners of recording and composition copyrights need to be reasonably compensated when their creative works are reused by sampling artists, but secondly, sampling artists should have a reasonable degree of freedom to rework fragments of existing recordings at a reasonable cost. A system needs to balance these interests and reduce the degree of uncertainty that arises when the use of a sample infringes a copyright. This Article will discuss the current state of the law as it relates to digital sampling and will then articulate five goals that should be taken into account by any proposed solution to the sampling problem. It will also discuss the various proposals, evaluating each of their strengths and weaknesses with respect to the five goals. Ultimately, it will conclude that compulsory license schemes are best suited to solving, or at least minimizing, the problem.