Yes. Sampling can actually hurt when you take pieces of music, a name, a logo, and/or release art work without clearing it from the original creator. Illegal sampling not only affects the original creator, but it will eventually cause a lot of legal hardships for the person that is sampling illegally.
In the world of music, some websites sell acapellas of songs and various other samples of songs through a genre they call “DJ Tools”. The reason for it is that these acapellas or samples are meant to be used only during DJ Performances, not recordings. These samples are not meant to be purchased, downloaded, and then placed into productions for re-releasing unless you get the clearance from the original creator.
With the amount of new producers not aware of the laws of the industry, this is an understandable misconception. If you were not aware previous to reading this article, now you know! Yup! DJ Tools are just that, a tool…not a sample.
To add to the confusion and to make matters worse, the websites selling the material don’t really clearly define if the samples can be used for reproduction or not. There isn’t any “Warning! Warning! don’t buy!”. You simply see “DJ Tools” and an individual may assume “Cool! They are selling it! I’ll buy it, and the royalty will go to the label and artist and then I can simply use it in my song because it sounds cool!”. This actually is wrong on behave of the website because with the amount of over saturation and lack of knowledge that is clearly out there, they should be responsible enough to report it, but of course, they do not. The best part is, they (the retailer) may not even be responsible or at fault for this practice of selling “DJ Tools” because they have agreements with the creator selling these samples that exclude them from proceedings which basically means it’s between you (the individual that may have not known this), and the original creator of the material who in effect will feel a whirl of emotions when he or she discovers this “theft”.
Imagine you are the creator of a sample and you discover it’s being used by someone that has released it in a production without getting clearance. The first feeling that you may feel is anger, then confusion, and lastly, a “HURT” mindset. You have just seen your hard work be used behind your back and you didn’t even know about it! You had to find it for yourself. Ouch. That just plain sucks doesn’t it? Put yourself back into the shoes of that creator and after all of the emotions are out of the way, you gather yourself, pick up the phone, get a lawyer and say, “IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.”!
Now let’s flip it and reverse it. Let’s assume you are the artist that committed this theft and perhaps even did this unknowingly without any intent to commit wrongdoing. You wake up, go to your computer, get some coffee, and after you read a cool email, you see a legally binding letter in your inbox. The first thing you might say is “Ohhhhh……shiiiit.” Then you may freak out. After that, you may think you can beat it (and act all tough in the process). About 5-10 minutes, or hours later, you realize, “Crap, I did mess up, I didn’t know that I couldn’t use this sample, and if I don’t abide by this letter, I’m gonna get sued.”
At the end of the day, we say sampling HURTS because whether its done intentionally or not, it’s illegal and a very painful legal process. Do yourself a favor and do things legally. If you like artwork, try and contact the artist for clearance. If you can’t contact the artist, then find yourself a reliable designer. If you like a sample from a “DJ Tools” section, don’t just use it in a song, try and get clearance and if that’s not possible simply come to terms that your creation will not be using this sample whatsoever because it truly is not worth it. BE ORIGINAL.
All of this inspires originality and creativity. Cutting corners does improve your name, sound, image and/or brand. Next time you want to sample, think about this, it may just save you a lot of PAIN.