Legal Issues with Sampling


This is not a legal document and I am not a legal expert. Advice found within below is a rough guide rather than a legal structure to work within. I, Pianobook, and Spitfire Audio do not take any responsibility for infringements made based on the advice of this article. For the full details on how Pianobook deals with copyright infringement and the personal responsibility community members have when submitting material to the site, please read the End User License Agreement (EULA/Terms). If you are not sure whether a sample pack infringes copyright, we recommend you contact the manufacture of the sound source you have sampled, seek professional legal advice, or simply do not publish the pack publicly- including on the Pianobook site and socials (Discord).

Original Audio – A Definition

Every pack submitted to Pianobook should contain original audio. That is, audio that is created by the Samplist/ Uploader. This could be a recording made with a microphone, or a signal created by an Oscillator or Generator. Put simply, we always advise that you should sample acoustic instruments and synths with analogue or digital oscillators that are not pre-programmed.

So what can’t you submit? Well this where it can get complicated. An audio recording made by someone else, where you do not have the explicit permissions of the original creator to use their audio in a sample library will infringe on their copyright. So you should always seek permission first when it comes to using someone else’s audio.

What if I have changed the original audio?

So you’ve changed the original audio by adding FX, cutting or splicing, or transferring it to tape and putting it through a blender… No matter what, the original audio source is still holds the copyright and ownership of that new audio recording.

Even if the original audio was free at the point of use (e.g. you’ve resampled LABS Soft Piano through a pedalboard), the original source audio holds the copyright. Therefore it is best to avoid using sample libraries to create new samples that are for sharing publicly (you can of course do this on a private individual basis providing you have a license to the original sound- it’s the sharing part that is illegal).

Can I use a virtual synth or instrument?

In 99.9% of cases you cannot legally resample a virtual instrument or synth. There are a couple of instances where the synth can be seen as a generator, and therefore audio can be legally derived from the original sound source and resampled. Where this is possible, it will be stated in the manufactures user manual, terms and conditions, or EULA. If it is not, you should contact the manufacture to check.

What about digital synths that have been discontinued?

Digital synths cannot be resampled and redistributed without the manufactures express permission. This is because you are essentially resampling another company’s samples. This includes, Digital Pianos where the sound is a sample instead of a naturally generated tones of an Electric Piano (e.g. Fender Rhodes). Even if the model has been discontinued, if the company is still operating- they still own the rights to the samples. If a company has stopped trading, there is the possibility that the samples can then be distributed. However, we would still prefer samples from digital synths and pianos not to be posted on our site unless express permissions has been sought and you can evidence this to our team.

Can I use the model name or the manufacture name on the sample pack?

We do not recommend naming your sample pack with a trademarked name. We have numerous trademarked names currently across the site, which we have allowed for now because none of the products are commercial and therefore there is no commercial gain from the use of these names. However, should we receive an request, we will ask users to rename sample packs and remove any that have trademarked names in the file names or user interface design until they are updated.

Therefore, to avoid any future conflict, it is best to avoid using any brand name.

My pack has been wrongly removed or declined due to copyright

We are a user generated site, and as such, you have the right to request a review of any rejection of content made by our team. Please use the contact form linked below. If our team rejects your pack, you will be sent an automated email explaining why which gives you the opportunity to respond.

Can I resample another Pianobook sample pack?

First, you should always seek the permission of the original owner should you wish to resample or improve a free sample pack on our site. Paid sample packs available on our site cannot be resampled and redistributed. If you are resampling a Pianobook library, you may only repost this on our site. If you post the sample pack elsewhere, and/ or sell the library, you are liable to be sued.

I just want to make samples, why so many rules?

We value Pianobook samplists and we don’t want you to spend your time sampling something that could end up breaching copyright. We also need to be strict on copyright within sampling to protect the site, Pianobook and Spitfire Audio brands from being brought into disrepute. We want to keep Pianobook thriving and so keeping out of legal issues will protect us as a community in the long run! So keep sampling, but do so safely!