If I only use 3 notes, is that copyright infringement?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

There are rumors that sampling only four notes is not copyright infringement because it is protected as “fair use”. This notion of reducing copyright infringement down to the number of notes uses, however, is simply wrong. If you sample a single note, beat, or line from a sound recording without permission, that constitutes copyright infringement. Under current US copyright law, unauthorized “sampling” – no matter how minimal or seemingly innocuous- is usually not considered “fair use”.

Under US Copyright law, the true test for copyright infringement is not the number of notes sampled, but whether the sample is “substantially similar” to the original work. The other main questions is whether it should qualify as “fair use“.

In short, if you engage in unauthorized sampling and get sued by the owners, don’t expect to prevail in court on a “fair use” defense if you use the songs commercially for your own private benefit.

(Reprinted with permission of Ruben Salazar, Esq.)

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption