It looks like Richard Hall will be busy battling lawyers in court as of late. A New York based record label has filed charges against musical veteran Moby for allegedly using certain samples improperly in two songs from 1992. The two songs are “Next in the E” and “Thousand” from his debut album Moby. According to the plaintiff, the accused songs contain samples from a song called “Let No Man Put Asunder” by the Philly soul, girl group First Choice.
What’s interesting about this lawsuit filed by VMG Salsoul is that this is not the first time they have gone on a witch hunt for inappropriate use of samples from the two decades ago. They have just finished losing a lawsuit for the same thing but with Madonna‘s hit “Vogue” which is twenty-four years-old. According to the judge, the ruling stated 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.” Although it seems like they are picking a fight where non exists, the Madonna case now is being appealed.
Although the sample is so very hard to find and from a track from a generation ago, Moby’s and Madonna’s cases bring up interesting legal questions. Sampling has made some great songs and turn them into law disputes on treading that fine line between originality and plagiarism. For example, one of the biggest songs of early 2013 was Baauer‘s “Harlem Shake”. Months after the song was met with critical acclaim and Youtube love, the artist spoke to Pitchfork and revealed that even after reaching settlements over uncleared samples he had not made a single dollar from that song. Although both cases are very different, the same issues were risen and debated between many lawyers.
The plaintiff is demanding up to $150,000 in statutory damages for each song they were utilized in as well as money from the profits and full coverage of lawyer fees. However, if all fairs well for Moby, this will most likely blow over.
Super Fun Fact: One of the two Moby songs being sued over called “Thousand” holds the Guiness world record for having the fastest tempo in beats-per-minute at a whopping 1,000 bpm.