Sample lawsuit: Jay-Z’s “Versus”

As somebody who tries to follow most of the music sample lawsuits, this one is pretty peculiar.

First off, Jay has the budget to clear a sample. This isn’t some small indie label who had to choose between printing up physical CDs and clearing up licenses.

Second, OBVIOUSLY the sample’s going to be identified. This is one of the biggest selling and best known artistsĀ in the world today.

How could they think it would fly?

Lastly, even though the artist being sampled is somewhat obscure – it’s a loop of the opening stanza of dude’s song. It’s not chopped, pitched or anything crazy to change it up. It’s extra obvious! In fact, it sounds like it’s just the sample and some drums. (Which also makes me wonder why it took both Timbaland and Swizz Beats to produce it, but I guess that question is above my pay grade…)

I’m still hoping that one day these old music copyright laws will be updated, and sampling will involve compulsory licenses like cover songs, but until then…