Journal of Law and Policy


Music sampling is a legally complex and ambiguous area, with staggeringly high costs attached for copyright infringers. The legality of sampling frequently depends upon what jurisdiction the inquiry into the sampling takes place in, and has been guided by inconsistently applied doctrines of fair use, de minimis, and copyright infringement. The Ninth Circuit’s decision in VMG Salsoul v. Ciccone has dramatically highlighted these inconsistencies. This note suggests a four-part solution to resolve the tensions in copyrightable sound recordings magnified by the recent circuit split created by VMG Salsoul v. Ciccone. It incorporates elements of de minimis and fair use, a robust licensing scheme, and administrative oversight. While Ciccone fails to resolve the complex issues inherent to musical sampling and copyright infringement, it does create an opportunity for a joint legislative-judicial solution.