This is a phrase I hear all too often.Â For some reason, this has been ingrained into our heads throughout the years...Â The idea that doing something wrong is fine if you do less of something that is wrong is preposterous to me.Â That is like thinking that speeding in your car is OK if you only go 10 miles over the limit rather than 15... speeding is speeding and copyright infringement is copyright infringement. The proper legal term for this is "de minimis" use.Â Or in the long form latin, "de minimis non curat lex" -meaning the law does not care about trivial things.Â This is in fact a common defense to a law suit (much like it's more overused big brother Fair Use).Â This is not a RIGHT... but a DEFENSE.Â There is a big difference in these two words.
De Minimis VSÂ Infringement
photocopying a cartoon and putting it on the fridge = de minimis
photocopying a cartoon and placing it in an advertisement or displaying it publicly even in a very trivial way= infringement
So how does this apply to musical recordings...?Â The fact is, the de minimis rule does NOT apply to sound recordings.Â As decided by the Sixth Circuit court of appeals in Bridgeport Music Inc. VS Dimension Films.Â The use of any part of a sound recording in sampling or otherwise is infringement.Â Whether you agree or not, this is in fact the law now.
For more information on this and other topics in copyright infringement check out this page
Bottom line is-Â if you are going to use music in any length, way , or form-Â Pay the owner of the intellectual property.