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Old 19th November 2007
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
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The problem with sampling is that, for the moment at least, there is no compulsory legislation in place. For mechanical royalties, you can use someone's copyright-protected material and pay them--so long as you pay them (and you must, that's why it's compulsory), you're doing nothing illegal. However, a compulsory license doesn't exist for masters, and the right to sample a master MUST legally be secured ahead of time, usually at terrific expense. I've seen a 5-second sample cost TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars. As you say, that's good and bad.

TuneCore has a standing policy against theft. That is, we tell our customers and prospective customers that they can not use samples unless they have been cleared. We let our customers know that if they use a sample, they had better have proof in writing that they had the right to use it.

The expense and the hassle means we don't see it much. TuneCore is taking in tens of thousands of albums, more and more every day, and we couldn't possibly check them all for samples, and even if we did, who are we to say if they're stolen or not? We believe our customers when they click the "I Agree" to the required terms and condisions and warrant and represent they control or have cleared the rights.

I'm happy to say that so far, there have been very, very few of these. I like to think it's because we're so up-front and try so hard to provide education and display our policy. People really are honest, if you give them the chance!

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