Moby Sued Over Twenty-Two Year-Old Song Sample
Posted by Joseph Lee on 03.25.2014
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, New York-based disco and funk label VMG Salsoul is suing Moby for samples on his 1992 songs "Next is the E" and "Thousand." The lawsuit was filed in California on Monday. VMG claims that the 22-year-old songs include unlicensed samples of "Let No Man Put Asunder" by Philadelphia girl group First Choice.
They previously lost a case against Madonna for her song "Vogue" after a judge claimed that "no reasonable audience would find the sampled portions qualitatively or quantitatively significant in relation to the infringing work, nor would they recognize the appropriation." That case is up for appeal.
A sample that is so hidden that it can't be found without advanced technology two decades later raises a lot of questions in the legal world. If the sampling was minimal, as it was in the Madonna song, there's no copyright liability. Artists and record labels have done a better job of clearing samples ever since a law was established in the early 1990s when Warner Bros. Records was sued over a sample of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" in rapper Biz Markie's "Alone Again." After that, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal hit NWA's sample of Funkadelic's "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" in 2005. A Nashville appellate judge wrote: "Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."
Many courts don't have the same strict standards and most lawsuits settle or are quietly dismissed. This latest lawsuit names Moby (Richard Melville Hall), Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner Music Group and Knitting Factory Records as defendants. VMG wants damages of up to $150,000 for each infringement along with profits and attorneys' fees.