Issue: Copycats


No matter the genre, sampling has been a mainstay in popular music, with hip-hop taking lead of the trend, but the trend has been a problem for some.

Rap artist Kanye West is well known for sampling music from musicians to make his own signature style of music and others have followed in his footsteps, but they haven’t taken the proper legal precautions to make sure that it was ok to do.

There are rap artists that make mixtapes – a mix of music not formally released by a record label, but independently by the artist – who outright use music from other artists without giving attribution or asking the artist if they could use their music. However, this is a growing trend in the underground rap/hip-hop scene where rappers take beats from other rappers and try to best them lyrically, to make a remix or to make their own version of the song.

For example rapper Vanilla Ice took David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” music and used it for his own song “Ice Ice Baby.” He claimed that he didn’t sample the music, but later released a statement saying that he did use their music.

Another recent example is singer/rapper Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas ripped the music for her song “Fergalicious” from J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic.” She didn’t ask permission to use the song and subsequently was sued by one of the creators of the song for not getting any royalties from the song. Fergie and the Black Eyes Peas have been accused of copyright infringement before and they last were sued by a music group Groundation for sampling their music without permission.


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