On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati turned the playing field for digital sampling completely upside-down. The court ruled quite simply that any and all samples used must paid for, even if they sound completely different from their original. Previously, if a digital sample wasn't identifiable from it's original it was perfectly legal.
The court stated that the recent federal laws aimed at stopping piracy of recordings applied directly to digital sampling also, slapping any and all artists who use samples in their works in the face with the very laws some of them fought for.
With the new rules and current state of the industry (greed), many speculate that if this ruling existed before many classic hip-hop albums such as Paul's Boutique from the Beastie Boys would quite simply be too difficult to get proper licensing for to release.
: I think the article is a bit dramatic, not to mention less than hard news with the whole "current state of the industry (greed)" line but I've been frustrated by only finding one other article on this ruling. Not being a lawyer I tend to believe this isn't the final word on the subject, but I hope it isn't since much of the last decades innovations in music haved used sampling to at least some degree. Why take that tool away from artists?