As a general rule of thumb, if it takes 25 years of listening to detect a sample in song, it’s probably not that big a deal.
Last year, the day before MCA died, TufAmerica, the label of recording artist Trouble Funk, slapped the Beasties with a lawsuit alleging they were owed some money for samples used on “Licensed to Ill” and “Paul’s Boutique.” The lawsuit asked for cash payment for damages as well as a permanent injunction on the sale of the two classic records.
According to the Guardian, this week the Beasties asked that the case be dismissed, since TufAmerica overshot the 3-year statue of limitations on copyright complaints by a cool 22 years.
TufAmerica’s excuse for the two-and-a-half decade delay on the lawsuit? The samples were really hard to hear. They’re “‘concealed … [to] the casual listener’ and were only detectable ‘after conducting a careful audio analysis,’” notes the Guardian.
The Beasties countered that if it took 25 years of listening to detect it, they’re probably not doing TufAmerica much harm. “Because Plaintiff admits that the casual observer cannot identify Plaintiff’s musical compositions and sound recordings … there can be no substantial similarity,” their lawyer said.
Looks like “Licensed” and “Paul’s” are probably safe for now.