There have been numerous rows about uncleared samples in hip-hop tracks down the years, but we can’t remember many academic studies of the impact on sales of a song when it gets sampled. Now a Texas judicial law clerk called W. Michael Schuster II has rectified that with a paper called ‘Fair Use, Girl Talk, and Digital Sampling: An Empirical Study of Music Sampling’s Effect on the Market for Copyrighted Works’. It uses the last album by Girl Talk, which contains more than 350 samples, and analyses those songs’ sales immediately before and after the album came out. “Collecting and comparing sales information for these songs found that — to a 92.5% degree of statistical significance — the copyrighted songs sold better in the year after being sampled relative to the year before,” claims Schuster. “To the extent that the Copyright Act instructs courts to analyze (among other considerations) the effect that an alleged fair use has on the potential market for the original work, these findings favor the conclusion that digital sampling is a fair use (though each statutory fair use consideration should still be reviewed).”

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