it looks like you have to learn from examples of what constitutes copyright violation when sampling someone else's tune for example in a hip hop song (or even in a rap song).

I used search engine duckduckgogo to find "song copyright trial" in video section but found no examples of actual trials discussing this matter. I remember not too long ago Led Zeppelin got away with one, maybe it wasn't too similar. But cannot find the trial on the internet- maybe it was livestreamed and no one recorded.

Is there anyone that can share examples of how they decide if a song is similar enough to another song? maybe you are solicitor or they copy from you? or even the one copied (if you are not in jail!)?

  • 2
    Expert testimony.
    – Trish
    Apr 20, 2021 at 10:03
  • 2
    If you are going to sample a song in another one, it would behoove you to get permission from the original artist first, rather than doing it and waiting for a lawsuit.
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 20, 2021 at 15:14
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    "But cannot find the trial on the internet- maybe it was livestreamed and no one recorded." The court system is not Twitch.tv. Apr 24, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


Rolling Stone has a short non-technical article on a dozen famous cases. This page is a massive database on music copyright infringement cases going back to 1844, along with analysis of the cases. That analysis may well suffice for your interests: here is an except from a recent case:

In fact, there is no melodic material in the section in question in the plaintiff’s work. The harmonic progression of the arpeggiated chords of both songs is utterly commonplace and not copyrightable expression. Neither are “structure, tempo, instrumentation” when, as here, these elements in both works contain no protectable authorship individually or combined. The plaintiff’s references to “iconic notes” and “feel” are meaningless.

What excited the plaintiff was merely the fact that a portion of the defendant’s song sounds like his. This similarity, however, doesn’t support a claim of infringement of a musical work when, as here, the musical elements of the portions of the songs in issue underlying the recorded sounds of both works contain little or no protectable original expression

Apart from providing the appellate court rulings, this also includes original complaints and petitions, certain trial court rulings, and amicus briefs which are the "technical" core of the court's finding of fact.

However, you will need to read a varied sample of these cases and not just pick one at random. This will at least provide the raw material basis for discovering how these decisions are made.

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