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(Re)defining Sampling in Digital Audio Workstations: the Case of DirtyCircuit and Deadmau5

(Re)defining Sampling in Digital Audio Workstations: the Case of DirtyCircuit and Deadmau5

Sonja Hamhuis


In 2008, amateur musician DirtyCircuit used two samples of Deadmau5’s “Faxing Berlin” (2007) in one of his tracks. The samples were included in the database of FL Studio, a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) used by many early-career EDM producers. However, in contrast to other samples in the database, the Deadmau5 sample was not copyright-cleared for FL Studio users. Deadmau5 thereafter accused DirtyCircuit of stealing his music and threatened with legal actions.

On the online forum of Image-Line, DirtyCircuit sought advice from users and moderators.[1] The forum thread received over 500 responses and became a site for lengthy debates on DirtyCircuit’s case and other sampling practices. In the end, DirtyCircuit was not persecuted because FL Studio’s policy was unclear about which samples were and were not free to use. FL Studio subsequently removed the samples from their pack in the next update.

This case exemplifies an ongoing change in music sampling practices. Originally, sampling was based on what Mark Katz theorizes as an idea/expression dichotomy: artist A transforms a musical idea into an expression, artist B then extracts the idea from that expression and uses it to create a new expression.[2] However, following the Grand Upright Music Ltd v. Warner Bros Records lawsuit of 1991 that set the precedent in the legal field, sampling has become increasingly difficult for musicians without the necessary financial resources.[3] DAWs and external parties began to offer sample libraries and therewith provided an alternative to the active search for samples. The origin of these samples is unclear, since the idea is already extracted from its original expression.

In scholarship, research on music sampling has often presupposed the existence of a blurred idea/expression dichotomy.[4] However, the implications of skipping the process of extracting an idea from a specific expression have received little attention. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate what is meant, but not explicitly defined, in sampling practices: what constitutes a sample? And what then, is considered sampling? Moreover, to what extent does the intent to sample a specific expression matter, and what does this say about the presupposed blurred idea/expression dichotomy?

In this paper, I examine how sample libraries in DAWs redefine the practice of sampling as a compositional technique of musical borrowing. I research to what extent the intention of referencing to a specific expression is part of the sampling process. Through a discourse analysis of FL Studio and the Deadmau5 v. DirtyCircuit case, I argue that sample libraries challenge the idea/expression dichotomy as proposed by Katz. I reveal how oversimplification of sampling practices by not acknowledging the full range of practices has led to confusion about what can be understood as a “sample” and “sampling.” Hence, I end with the suggestion to broaden the definition of sampling to the process of taking a piece of recorded music and using it in another piece. By using a broader definition of “sampling practices” whilst simultaneously making a distinction between the different processes of sampling that it encompasses, this paper provides new insights into the myriad of methods underlying digital sampling practices.

Practices of Musical Borrowing

Musical borrowing, which includes a range of practices, has been part of music production for centuries. Medieval chants often adapted melodic patterns from other chants; many Renaissance masses found their origin in “L’homme armé”; The Beatles used Bach’s Two-Part Invention 8 in F and the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” in “All You Need Is Love”; John Coltrane’s “anti-jazz” borrowed melodies from Maurice Ravel, Morton Gould, and Bert Schefter; and Kendrick Lamar incorporated Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place” in his song “Poetic Justice”.

While all of these examples are forms of musical borrowing, Lamar’s use of “Any Time, Any Place” is the only case of sampling. In music, sampling is commonly understood as reusing a portion of a sound recording in another recording.[5] This points to a form of musical borrowing that remains untouched in the other examples. Whereas most forms of musical borrowing cite a work, samples cite both the work and the specific performance of that work. Katz calls this performative quotation, “quotation that recreates all the details of timbre and timing that evoke and identify a unique sound event.”[6]

The abundance of sampling methods available today stems from the development of a series of technological tools. Foundations for the sampling practice date back as early as the 1940s, when artists of the musique concrète made experimental music by splicing, manipulating and looping tape. However, it was only decades later that the term sampling would be introduced.[7] In the late 1970s, the Fairlight CMI reached the market as one of the first sampling devices. Although the Fairlight became widely used in 1980s popular music, it was the release of the Akai MPC that made the sampler more affordable and thus more accessible to musicians. Producers began to sample funk and soul records – particularly drum breaks – and rap over them. It became a craft to find the best samples and put them to creative use. Some artists even went as far as to create entire albums made out of samples.[8] It is precisely this practice that would later become the foundation for the genre of hip-hop.

The rise of hip-hop to the global mainstream in the early 1990s resulted in major debates on technical, aesthetic, ethical, and legal perspectives aspects of sampling practices.[9] Underlying these debates is the assumption of both scholars and musicians that while a quotation is simply a representation of another piece, a sampled passage of music actually is that music.[10] Hence, the degree of copying that sampling involves appears to be higher than other practices of musical borrowing. In Capturing Sound, Katz theorizes the sampling practice as an idea/expression dichotomy.[11] In intellectual property law, an idea is often understood as a “concept, principle, process, or system that is independent of any form.”[12] An expression, on the other hand, is a particular embodiment of the idea.[13] In the practice of sampling, Artist A would thus think of an idea and incorporate this into an expression (the resulting track). Artist B then extracts the idea of Artist A (in the form of a sample) from the expression of Artist A and uses the idea in his own expression (the track of artist B).

In practice, the distinction between an idea and an expression is not very straightforward. In hip-hop, for example, where having an idea for the expression by using a sample is regarded as a highly valued composition process, specific rules apply. Joseph Schloss defines these rules according to four recurring terms in hip-hop: biting; flipping; chopping and looping.[14] Biting is the appropriation of intellectual material of other hip-hop artists.[15] A hip-hop artist can bite another artist by either sampling their hip-hop track or by using a sample in a way that has already been done by another hip-hop artist. Generally, biting does not refer to sampling material from outside hip-hop communities.[16] Biting is frowned upon because finding a sample yourself and altering it in a novel way is vital to the appreciation of hip-hop artists. This process of altering the material both creatively and substantially is referred to as flipping.[17] The underlying thought is that one creates added value through the creativity of the alterations. Chopping and looping refer specifically to these alteration process.[18] Chopping means dividing the sample into smaller segments and reconfiguring them in a different order. Looping is sampling a longer phrase and repeating it with little or no alteration.

Schloss identifies three generally accepted exceptions to the “no biting” rule: flipping the sample; parodying the original and biting unintentionally.[19] Since these exceptions are difficult to measure, the main feature of evaluation is the reputation of the individual artist.[20] In general, people with a relatively high reputation within hip-hop communities face fewer accusations than others. After all, Schloss writes, a producer who has violated the sampling codes in the past is “more likely to do it now.”[21] However, regardless of the type of musical borrowing applied, musicians always sample musical elements from previous works they know.[22]

At least in hip-hop. From the 1980s onwards, sampling practices were adopted in other genres as well, particularly in electronic (dance) music and pop music. At about the same time, the range of sampling practices increased in both software programs and hardware. In addition to samplers as hardware devices, DAWs in the form of software made their entrance as tools for music composition. Moreover, the affordances of DAWs expanded over the years. By the 1990s, artists were able to loop, slice, and splice recordings with one single software program.[23] Moreover, the software was financially more affordable for amateur musicians than the samplers of the 1980s. DAWs eventually became vital tools for kick-starting the careers of upcoming (electronic dance music) artists. A game-changer in the field of sampling was the introduction of sample packages, accumulations of samples collected in sonic archives that artists can use in their music. Nodusk, a commercial provider of sample packages, advertises that

“[h]aving an extensive sound library is essential to a productive and professional work
flow. Think about it – you’re brainstorming your next project and out of nowhere, the
inspiration hits. At this moment you want to be prepared so that you can surround
yourself with the tools and building blocks that you need to transfer what is in your
head, into the DAW. Without an extensive library you’re at a disadvantage.”[24]

Music libraries are presented as tools to, in the words of NoDusk, “better your overall production and to spark creativity.”[25] In addition to the sample packages offered by external parties, many DAWs have integrated music libraries themselves. Several artists argue against the use of these tools, asserting that the use of sample libraries is “cheating” and “a limitation of the creative process of sampling.”[26] Whereas that is a discussion beyond the scope of this paper, the debate does imply that this new way of sampling challenges the notion of sampling “as we knew it”. The sample libraries of FL Studio and other DAWs, as well as the sample packs of external parties like Nodusk, allow users to sample material without having to extract an idea from its original expression. These recent developments call for a reflection on what is – and what is not – part of a sampling process. To get a deeper understanding of this practice, we turn to the rather peculiar case of DirtyCircuit and Deadmau5.

DirtyCircuit v. Deadmau5

On November 18, 2008, amateur musician DirtyCircuit created a forum thread on Image-Line titled “I am an unwilling pirate. Please help me out here!”.[27] After using two samples from the FL Studio sample library in one of his tracks, DirtyCircuit received a message from EDM producer Deadmau5. The particular samples turned out to be demos of Deadmau5’s track “Faxing Berlin,” that had not been copyright cleared for FL Studio users. Deadmau5 accused the amateur musician of stealing and threatened with legal actions. In the forum thread, DirtyCircuit sought advice from users and moderators:

“I used the loop “Berlin” in one of my songs on a cd I recently finished only to be
contacted by an angry deadmau5 threatening legal action. WHY ARE THESE
HIS?? I would NOT have used it had I known it was his. Also what am I to do at this
point. the cd is on iTunes and Amazon, so i can’t just take it off myspace and forget it.
I’m really upset with the FL team over this. Now I look like an a-hole.”[28]

Other forum users, consisting of people working for Image-Line/FL Studio and users thereof, joined the discussion in large numbers. With a total of 534 replies, the thread became a site for lengthy debates on the case of DirtyCircuit, and on sampling practices more broadly. Many replies were concerned with the aesthetic and creative value of the sampling practice. Tearsoftechnology, for example, replied that

“taking any loop that you yourself did not create is setting your own self up……ANY
LOOP…….. That is why you stay away from loops, and be original. […] If ya want to
be an artist, then create….people who use others music to make their own
is not creating. That is copying…….Inspiration is one thing, and mimicking is another.”[29]

However, it is not the notion of sampling as a form of musical borrowing that evoked the argument between Deadmau5 and DirtyCircuit. Instead, it is the specific method of sampling that brings new questions into the debate: does the origin of the sampled material matter? To what extent does one need to have the intention of sampling an idea from a specific expression? In other words, what exactly is sampling? An analysis of the DirtyCircuit v. Deadmau5 case helps answer this question in multiple ways. First, it reflects on the difference between diverse types of samples offered in sample libraries. Second, it examines the specific use of these materials in the resulting expressions. Third, it explores the variety of sampling processes afforded by sample libraries.

DirtyCircuit used two different samples from the FL Studio database, both originally from the track “Faxing Berlin.” The first is a drum loop titled LP_Faxing Berlin A_128bpm.ogg and the second a melodic loop named LP_Faxing Berlin C_128bpm.ogg.[30] DirtyCircuit used the drum loop as an intro and then went on to use the melody loop throughout the rest of the track.[31]  Indeed, the resulting track inevitably shows significant similarities to Deadmau5’s “Faxing Berlin.”[32] Image-Line forum user Nuclean notes that when you

“[p]ut them together without much editing and of course it’s going to sound similar. The
point is a user assumes the samples that come with a DAW software that are placed
ready to use, are royalty free and you can use as you like in a song, as long as you
don’t redistribute the individual samples as they are.”[33]

Still, DirtyCircuit’s use of the samples did not sit right with a lot of people. Some forum users found it similar to biting in hip-hop sampling practices. User L.M., for example, writes:

“And for those who then list about HipHop sampling there is a vast difference in
something as current as this style of music and using a whole phrase loop within a
track of its exact same genre and releasing it side by side, as opposed to and digging
old small sections from beaten up wax from over 40 years ago that are so obscure no
one would even blink at it.”[34]

In addition to the genres of the sampled material and the new expression, L.M. raises two other elements that commonly surface in the forum thread. The first is the creative and time-consuming process of finding a suitable sample. Sample libraries command a redistribution of labor in the idea/expression dichotomy of Katz. In this redistribution, the person extracting an idea and the person incorporating it in a new expression are no longer the same. The second factor raised by L.M. is the length of the sampled material. By opposing the use of a “whole phrase loop within a track of its exact same genre” to “digging old small sections from beaten up wax from over 40 years ago”, the forum user implicitly suggests that DirtyCircuit’s use of the Deadmau5 samples is a form of biting.

However, L.M.’s remark disregards the role of intention: to what extent does a musician have to be aware of the fact that s/he is sampling a particular idea? In hip-hop, biting is generally excused when it occurs unintentionally. Sample libraries evoke such unintentional sampling through a lack of transparency in disclosing the origin of its samples. Moreover, samples in sample libraries are often not distinct enough to be recognized as a part of a previous expression. The burden thus lays on DAW-users to distinguish samples that have been extracted out of a particular expression from samples that were composed especially for sampling libraries and thus do not belong to any previous expression in the first place.

Before (re)defining practices of sampling, we should thus ask a more pressing question: what is a sample? Following the Grand Upright Music Ltd v. Warner Bros Records lawsuit of 1991, governments have attempted to capture sampling practices in terms of intellectual property law.[35] However, none of these laws provide any definition of a “sample.” Moreover, they do not clarify when a sample – whatever that may be – is granted copyright. It is thus unclear for musicians when samples can and cannot be used royalty-free. Or as forum user jc62 defines it, “samples are like legal landmines.”[36] Even employees of Image-Line appear to be confused by the ambiguity of “samples.” Jean-Marie Cannie, Managing Director of Image-Line, responded in the forum thread that “as far as we [Image-Line] were told by our lawyers it’s even impossible to sell material that holds ‘intellectual property.’”[37] Several other forum users rightfully pointed out Cannie’s flawed reasoning: if one sells over the samples, including loops, a license is granted to use the musical material in other compositions without any further royalties being owned. Whereas my aim is not to critique Image-Line’s response to the DirtyCircuit’s cry for help, Cannie implicitly unveils part of his conception of samples, intellectual property and composition when he elaborates that

“[t]he (single hit) samples sure are ready to use in a composition but it should be pretty
clear that anything else (whether it’s a demo song, melodic loop, score, …) belongs to
its author(s).”[38]

Cannie reveals where he draws the line between a composed piece of music and “merely” an instrumental sound. However, Cannie’s line is rather vague. The brackets around “single hit” make his statement ambiguous: melodic and rhythmic loops are categorized as samples by definition of “taking a piece of recorded music from its original context and using it in another piece,” but Cannie treats them as a separate category. Moreover, the specific samples used by DirtyCircuit were intended as “demo’s,” but not labeled as such in the FL Studio sample library. To an outsider, these samples would thus have been viewed as loops. And loops – as part of the sample library of FL Studio – were said to be royalty-free.[39]

The difference Cannie points to is one between single hit samples and the samples in libraries that were introduced a few years later. Single-hit samples are used to provide users with a particular sound, such as that of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. These samples consist of one note or hit that carries a specific sound, which musicians can use to compose their own ideas. So there is a difference between single hit samples that can be used to create an idea yourself (a Roland TR-808 single hit sample); samples as ideas that have not been part of a previous expression (samples made especially for the sample library) and samples that previously belonged to another expression (the Deadmau5 samples). The practice of sampling is the idea that one takes a sample from an expression and turns this into a new expression. The question is then, when is something an idea? In other words, when is a sample a “composed piece of work” that is copyrighted, and when is it just an instrumental sound?

The distinction between the two is, of course, not clear cut. The term “composition” derives from the Latin verb componere, the act of “putting together.” An etymological consideration of composition would lead us to a broad definition of musical composition along the lines of the result of joining together several musical components. This definition implies a process of “composing” that precedes the existence of a composition. Stephen Blum explains that “‘composition’ is an appropriate term when specific parts or elements of songs or instrumental pieces can be enumerated, yet the extent to which musicians speak of ‘joining together’ or ‘coordinating’ several components is a cultural variable.”[40] Moreover, these components are also “compositions” in themselves: whereas expressions may be what we commonly refer to as “a composition,” ideas often originate from a similar process of putting together musical components.

Blum continues to describe how “technical terms in many languages name the components or factors that must be coordinated in acts of composition, whether simultaneously or in succession, by a group of collaborators or by a single composer.”[41] Western music industries generally consider melody, rhythm, and harmony as the three main components of a musical composition. By means of example, I briefly consider the U.S. Copyright Law. This law describes when music can be attributed authorship, and thus, what is viewed as a composition or as an instrumental sound. The Compendium Copyright Office Practices relates melody, rhythm, and harmony to degrees of perceived musical authorship:

“[a]lthough a musical work will be registered if any of these three elements can be
considered to constitute a work of authorship, melody, the predominant element by
which one perceives a work, usually determines whether a work is copyrightable. Even
melody, however, may be too minimal for copyright.”[42]

So the fundamental question, in this case, is whether a piece of music is “recognizable”. In the first place, recognizability depends on the type of materials used (i.e., melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic). Some melodic, rhythmic or harmonic constructions of musical material are used so frequently that they are, as described in the compendium, “standard chords” or “common property.”[43] An additional factor for the degree of recognizability is the length of the piece of music. For example, the compendium states that musical phrases of less than three notes are – without exception – rejected as compositions.[44] In discussions about the line between composition and instrumental sound, melody is often prioritized since both harmony and rhythm have a larger tendency to be perceived as “common property.”[45] However, when one would use the beat from Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ together with the hand claps, and add a vocal melody that is similar to the melody sung by Freddie Mercury, the resulting “composition” would likely be viewed as plagiarism. It therefore seems that in addition to rhythmic ideas, other musical ideas need to be appropriated in order for the rhythmic ideas to be viewed as “composed bits of music” rather than as common property.

So, would DirtyCircuit have received similar threats from Deadmau5 if he had only used the LP_Faxing Berlin A_128bpm.ogg drum loop? Most likely not. Luckily for DirtyCircuit, he never actually had to argue his case in court. A few days later after creating the Image-Line forum thread, DirtyCircuit updated the other users with a new message from Deadmau5:

“I tried giving Deadmau5 my number and asking him to talk to me so he could hear
the Image-Line situation and he responded: “um. no. i cherish my privacy more than i
cherish knockoff artists. do you really want to go this route? please refrain from
contacting me further, if you have any more questions, you can speak to my lawyer. im
sure he will be contacting you soon.”[46]

This is the last time that DirtyCircuit commented on the specific actions of Deadmau5. Although it is unknown how the debate ended, it is unlikely that DirtyCircuit got sued. The track “Berlin” was removed from DirtyCircuit’s album and is only available on MySpace.[47] Image-Line never officially responded to the situation, but they did remove all melodic loops from FL Studio in their next update.

(Re)defining Sampling

The case of DirtyCircuit shows how the increasing availability of sample libraries and packages has expanded the sampler’s toolkit. Remarkably, Deadmau5 himself released a sample pack shortly after the “Faxing Berlin” fall-out. The pack – still available today for $67 – includes loops and other samples that can be imported into any DAW. Luckily for DirtyCircuit and many other amateur musicians, the purchase conditions explicitly state that users cannot face charges for using the contents of the package in their tracks.
The sampling libraries and packages discussed in this paper challenge the dominant definitions of earlier sampling practices. As a form of musical borrowing, sampling constitutes a blurred idea/expression dichotomy by selecting a piece of music from its initial context and incorporating it into another sonic environment. However, sample libraries and packages remove the necessity to extract an idea from its initial track. Instead, collections of isolated ideas are presented to DAW-users. Still, I suggest that this practice is also one of sampling. The broad definition provided above does not inherently rely on the intention to sample. Moreover, it does not imply that processes of extracting an idea from an expression and incorporating that idea into a new expression have to be executed by the same person. I argue that similar to how sampling challenges earlier forms of musical borrowing, sampling libraries pose an alternative to earlier ways of sampling.

This alternative builds on an implicit distinction between an instrumental sound and a composed piece of music. Intellectual property law draws this line based on recognizability and implicitly relates recognizability to duration and function (melodic, harmonic, rhythmic). The ambiguity surrounding the line between an instrumental sound and a composed piece of music continues into the environment of DAWs. In addition to single-hit samples used as sounds (the Roland TR-808-samples) and samples that are already extracted from their original expression (the Deadmau5 samples), some samples are made as a sample. These samples are composed pieces of music that have not been part of any previous expression. This challenges the idea/expression dichotomy not because a step in the sampling process was removed from the artist, but rather because the sample did not belong to any specific expression in the first place. When sampling is defined as “reusing a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording,” then are these pieces of music created for sample libraries actually samples? Or are they enablers of co-composition processes where an DAWs simply offer ideas for future expressions?

The similarity between pre-composed sections of music and samples like the Deadmau5 example creates confusion among users. Moreover, an oversimplification of the variety of sampling practices has led to uncertainty about what is and is not considered a sample and/or sampling. The now widespread availability of several sampling methods, instead of the persistence of one dominant method, asks for a clear delineation of the type of sampling discussed in a particular context. Hence, I suggest a broadening of the definition of sampling to the process of taking a piece of recorded music and using it in another piece. This definition allows for the inclusion of sampling practices based on materials that have not yet been part of a specific expression. In this way, scholars can study sampling practices more in-depth in future research. By uncovering the processes that are affiliated with each type of sample, we create space for further interdisciplinary discussions about, for instance, technical, ethical, and aesthetic aspects of sampling practices. Furthermore, musicians engaging in sampling practices would benefit from a clearer distinction between methods of musical borrowing. More transparency on the side of DAWs about the type of samples that they offer to their users would defuse the legal landmines that deny musicians access to a full pallet of composition techniques. By considering sampling in its multicomplex nature, we may end up fruitfully evaluating not only our notion of samples and sampling practices, but also the transformative character of musical composition.




Blom, Stephen. “Composition.” Grove Music Online. Accessed June 17, 2019.

Falstrom, Carl A. “Thou Shalt Not Steal: Grand Upright Music Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. and the Future of Digital Sound Sampling in Popular Music.” Hastings LJ 45 (1993): 359–382.

Image-Line. “I am an unwilling pirate. Please help me out here.” Accessed April 23, 2019.

Katz, Mark. 2004. “Music in 1s and 0s: The art and politics of digital sampling.” In Capturing sound: How technology has changed music. Berkeley: University of California Press. 137–158.

Kvifte, Tellef. “Digital sampling and analogue aesthetics.” In Aesthetics at Work, edited by A. Melberg, 105–128. Oslo: Unipub, 2007.

NoDusk. “30+ Free EDM Sample Packs.” Accessed April 23, 2019.

Schloss, Joseph Glenn, and Jeff Chang. Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2014.

U.S. Copyright Office. “Chapter 800: Works of the Performing Arts.” In Compendium III of U.S. Copyright Practices §101, i–105. 2017.

U.S. Copyright Office. “Chapter 400: Copyrightable Matter: Works of the Performing Arts and Sound Recordings.” In Compendium II OF U.S. Copyright Practices §101, 1–50. 1984.



[1] Image-Line. “I am an unwilling pirate. Please help me out here.” Accessed April 23, 2019. <>. Image-Line is the company behind FL Studio.

[2] Mark Katz, Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music (Berkeley: University of California Press), 156–157.

[3] In the Grand Upright Music Ltd v. Warner Bros Records case, singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan sued rapper Biz Markie after Markie sampled O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” without permission. The court ruled that sampling without permission can qualify as an infringement of copyright. This case thus set a precedent in the legal field that required any future use of samples to be pre-approved by the original owner. For a more elaborate discussion of the specific case, see for instance Carl A. Falstrom, “Thou Shalt Not Steal: Grand Upright Music Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. and the Future of Digital Sound Sampling in Popular Music,” Hastings LJ 45 (1993): 359–382.

[4] As a result, most research on music sampling focusses on sampling practices that follow Katz’s blurred expression dichotomy. In these forms of sampling, a piece of music is taken from its “original context” and then applied in another. Other sampling practices, in particular, the use of samples from sample libraries, often remain unnoticed in these discussions. For specific examples, see DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008); Adam Behr, Keith Negus, and John Street, “The sampling continuum: musical aesthetics and ethics in the age of digital production,” Journal for Cultural Research 21/3 (2017): 223–240; Tara Rodgers “On the process and aesthetics of sampling in electronic music production,” Organised Sound 8.3 (2003): 313–320 and Justin A. Williams, Rhymin’ and Stealin’: Musical Borrowing in Hip-Hop (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2013).

[5] This definition is encountered dozens of times not only in academia but also on music platforms like and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.

[6] Katz, Capturing Sound, 140–141.

[7] Tellef Kvifte, “Digital sampling and analogue aesthetics,” in Aesthetics at Work, ed. A. Melberg (Oslo: Unipub, 2007): 106.

[8] DJ Shadow’s album “Endtroducing…”(1996), for example.

[9] See Katz, Capturing Sound, for a more elaborate listing of the topics of debate.

[10] Katz, Capturing Sound, 149.

[11] Ibid., 175–176.

[12] Ibid., 175.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Joseph Glenn Schloss and Jeff Chang, Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2014), 105–109.

[15] Ibid., 106.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., 107.

[20] Ibid., 106.

[21] Ibid.

[22] In hip-hop, compilation albums were generally not received well since the process of selecting samples is still essential to the ethical code of hip-hop sampling.

[23] Schloss and Chang, Making Beats, 106.

[24] NoDusk, “30+ Free EDM Sample Packs,” accessed April 23, 2019, <>.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Image-Line, “I am an unwilling pirate. Please help me out here,” accessed April 23, 2019, <>.

[27] “I am an unwilling pirate. Please help me out here,” Image-Line, accessed April 23, 2019, <>. In this paper, I cite forum posts in relation to user names. I make an exception for the posts written by user jmc, who identified himself in the thread as Jean-Marie Cannie, the Managing Director of Image-Line. In his posts, Cannie narrates the perspective of Image-Line.

[28] DirtyCircuit, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[29] Tearsoftechnology, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[30] DirtyCircuit, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[31] DirtyCircuit claims that his track “Berlin” was named after the sample titles of the samples in the FL Studio sample library and that he was unaware of the existence of “Faxing Berlin.” However, it is beyond the scope of this paper to speculate about whether DirtyCircuit knew the origins of the two samples.

[32] I invite readers to listen to both tracks themselves. The full version of “Faxing Berlin” is available via <> (accessed June 17, 2019). A snippet of “Berlin” is available via <> (accessed June 17, 2019).

[33] Nuclean, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[34] L.M., forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[35] Copyright legislation is documented not only on a national level (such as the U.S. Copyright Acts), but also on larger scales (for instance the EU legislation on copyright).

[36] jc62, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[37] jmc, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[38] Ibid.

[39] Users cite this information from the legal page of Image-Line’s FL Studio. However, since FL Studio removed all melodic samples from their library after the incident, the legal page has been altered to fit the new offerings.

[40] Stephen Blum, “Composition,” Grove Music Online, accessed June 17, 2019, <>.

[41] Blum, “Composition.”

[42] U.S. Copyright Office,” Chapter 400: Copyrightable Matter: Works of the Performing Arts and Sound Recordings,” in Compendium II OF U.S. Copyright Practices §101, 1 (1984).

[43] U.S. Copyright Office, “Chapter 800: Works of the Performing Arts,” in Compendium III of U.S. Copyright Practices §101, 9–10 (2017) and U.S. Copyright Office,” Chapter 400: Copyrightable Matter,” 3.

[44] U.S. Copyright Office, “Chapter 300: Copyrightable Authorship,” 23.

[45] U.S. Copyright Office, “Chapter 800: Works of the Performing Arts,” 9–10 and U.S. Copyright Office,” Chapter 400: Copyrightable Matter,” 3.

[46] DirtyCircuit, forum message in “I am an unwilling pirate.”

[47] However, since 2017, Myspace audio files uploaded before 2015 are no longer available online.

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