Legal Question in Intellectual Property in New York

My website is throwing a contest for hip hop producers where cash prizes will be given to the winners. Each producer will enter a beat they've created into the contest. I want to allow for sampling (taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece).

If a contestant does use a sample, must it be cleared? They are not selling the beat for monetary gain but can possibly win a cash prize. What legal issues, if any, do they and/or I face? Thanks for any responses.

Asked on 4/11/13, 11:05 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gary Adelman Adelman Matz, P.C.

Actually, they are using the beat for monetary gain. If they win and receive cash prizes from you, they have used another persons work for monetary gain. You would be encouraging people to infringe on others copyrights for monetary gain, so you could be liable for among other things vicarious infringement. If you post any of the tracks, you may be liable for actual copyright infringement. If you were found to be an infringer, it would be willful, since you are encouraging people to use works that they do not own and you may be liable for statutory damages.

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Answered on 4/12/13, 4:47 am

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