Is sampling "copying"?

dmgtz96

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Saw on a Youtube video a bunch of comments that song A was copying another distinct song (B) just because A has lyrics that sound like a slowed-down version of the lyrics in B. The interesting bit is that A is pretty much an entirely different production that clearly draws from Latin American music (salsa, cha cha) where B is from an Indian movie. The lyrics are the only thing A and B have in common, and they only go on for ~30 seconds (song A is about 2 minutes 30 seconds in length)

In this case, would you say song A is copying song B?

And, in general, is sampling "copying"?

I would say no. We've seen producers in hip hop and trip hop do excellent work with samples, like DJ Shadow's Entroducing.

Discuss.
 
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Gagi

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A lot of hip-hop beat producers made their careers on sampling. It's most notable in boom-bap, where they used jazz and soul samples and doing magic with them.

As with your example, it's hard to determine. Firstly, because it's sung vocals. If you sample but do stuff to it and make it not obvious that it was sampled, well maybe then it doesn't. But using the vocals and only slowing them down, well, I don't know. If it's obvious, it kinda is copying. That's how I kinda distinguish it.

The legality of it is a completely different discussion.
 

J. Dorian

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As long as the sample is taken out of context, sampling should be seen as art that stands for itself. What some producers like Evidence or DJ Premier build from samples is awesome.

Here in germany there is a lawsuit that has been going on for 23 years. This one is about a well-known hip hop producer who used a sample from Kraftwerk for one song. The end is still open. That shows how complicated the matter is.
 
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Manofearth

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Sampling is the core of all music. If at the end of process your track has its own life and identity then there is no problem I think.
 
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Thijs

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When sampling, you at least copy a part of the other's work.

When sampling like daft punk, you will definitely arrange something with the owner of the original work.

When you use a copyright free sample from a sample library, then you still copy but you can use it safely.

That's about it :)
 
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Hensmon

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There's a pretty good debate on whether copyright in beneficial or harmful overall. This TED talk is good (a bit slow)

 

dmgtz96

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For those who were curious about the tracks in question:

Presumed copy (1:50 onwards) [2018]

"Original" (2:21 onwards) [2009]

After doing some digging, I found out the sample was also being used in multiple other Latin American-origin tracks (in salsa, tribal house, EDM), and some of them had additional lyrics in the same lyrical style. The Tamil track is the first time I know of the sample was used, but the existence of additional lyrics suggests the sample has a different origin. Since none of those productions credit anyone for that sample, my best guess is that those lyrics are taken from a free sample pack in a DAW. The Tamil track just happened to be the earliest instance which used the sample.
It's also unusual to have original Spanish lyrics in an Indian-language song, which made me skeptical about the Tamil track being the origin of the sample.
 
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Hot Tuna

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It's almost certainly from a standard royalty-free Latin vocal samples pack. I'm not a Spanish speaker, but my rudimentary knowledge suggests the lyrics are incredibly generic, intended for a cha cha dance song as in the original clip. Of course, anyone who has bought and downloaded the sample pack is free to use them in any way they want, so there is no issue here at all.

Somebody once found the Indian(?) vocal sample Super8 used in his remix of Aalto - Taurine. Again, absolutely no issue, sample pack samples are always going to pop up in multiple pieces of music.
 
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