DJ Copyright Laws

Written by hurt rockles
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DJ Copyright Laws
DJ at the turntable. (dj wave 16 image by Nathalie P from

Copyright laws apply to DJs just like everybody else. DJs own copyrights in the songs they create. When recording or performing live, sampling and mixing of other artists' songs raise copyright issues that DJs should understand.

Copyright Basics

The Copyright Act protects original works "fixed in a tangible medium." This includes any recorded songs, digital or otherwise.

Copyright Infringement

Without permission, any copying sampling or remixing of another artist's song constitutes copyright infringement.


In a famous case, Bridgeport Music, Inc. et. al. vs. Dimension Films et. al., a court decided that even a snippet constitutes infringement if the defendant "digitally sampled a copyrighted sound recording."


Licensing ensures a DJ can use a song sample without legal trouble. Contact the artist, publisher or record label to obtain a license.

Original Work

DJs that write songs have automatic copyrights for those songs in the U.S. Registering songs with the U.S. Copyright Office provides full legal protection.

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