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When is a CD Factory Not Like a Dance Hall? The Difficulty of Establishing Third-Party Liability for Infringing Digital Music Samples  

18 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 257 (2000)

The Recording Industry Association of American (“RIAA”) announced in 1998 that they would hold CD manufacturers directly , vicariously or contributorily liable if they did not confirm that all of their music was “cleared” or licensed by the copyright owners. This led the manufacturers to assume this included music samples as well. The issue is whether it should be legally possible to hold third parties liable for the replication, sale, distribution or performance of songs which contain infringing digital music samples.
As technology advances, it will become increasingly easier to identify sampling individuals, however many of those who are caught are likely to be judgment proof, increasing the pressure on third parties, like the music distribution companies, to aid in the enforcement of keeping within copyright and infringement laws. The author argues for a “balanced, reasoned and systematic” approach to enforcing these laws.

The internet has made it necessary for laws to develop and change in order to do the most good. Some current law may actually make it harder to try advanced sampling, highlighting the dire need for modern laws addressing modern musical and digital technology. Third parties most vulnerable to infringement laws will likely be independent record labels, Web sites and smaller manufacturers. who would benefit from a predictable standard in upholding infringement laws.

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