A federal appeals court has handed a victory to the Beastie Boys in a dispute over the musical practice of sampling, in which recording artists incorporate snippets of other songs into their own work.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Tuesday to reconsider its decision last year allowing the punk-rap group to use a six-second segment of music from jazz flutist James Newton's 1978 composition "Choir."
The Beastie Boys used the sample in their song "Pass the Mic" off the 1992 album "Check Your Head."
A three-judge panel of the court held in 2003 that the band had abided by copyright protections by paying a license fee for a sample of Newton's recording and therefore did not have to pay an additional fee to license the underlying composition.
The 9th Circuit on Tuesday refused to reconsider its ruling before a larger 11-judge panel.
"We hold that Beastie Boys' use of a brief segment of that composition, consisting of three notes separated by a half-step over a background C note, is not sufficient to sustain a claim for infringement of Newton's copyright," Chief Judge Mary Schroeder wrote in her opinion.
Representatives for Newton and the Beastie Boys were not immediately available for comment.