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Posted Aug 19th, 2015 (5:42 pm) by Sean O'Leary
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A new lawsuit against Action Bronson for stealing samples may lead to better ethics in music.

Bronson is currently facing a lawsuit by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, a Puerto Rican salsa music orchestra, for his unauthorized use of two of their songs on "Mofongo" and "Tapas." The suit calls for Bronson to immediately cease distribution of the tracks and pay royalties on any sales made through streaming platforms such as Spotify and Google Play.

According to TMZ, the rapper has previously stated his fondness of the group, mentioning in interviews that he loves to listen to them while he cooks. Apparently, this carries over to sampling their music as well.

This is hardly the first time an artist, major or minor, has run into issues with "borrowing" other musicians' work. The Blurred Lines legal battle made headlines earlier this year when Robin Thicke was ordered to pay $7.3 million in damages to Marvin Gaye's estate. Prior to that, the similarities between "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith and "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty resulted in the latter artist receiving a 12.5% royalty.

While legal battles between major artists over proper attribution tend to receive significant news attention, such is not the case for lesser known acts, who lack the money and legal firepower to win or force a settlement. The guitar player of Spirit has unsuccessfully tried to sue Led Zeppelin for similarities between "Stairway To Heaven" and one of their own songs for years. Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross surreptitiously sampled a track from the little-known Crown of Glory three years ago, and the resulting lawsuit is still pending.

As a result, when major artists use smaller act's music without attribution, there's a perception that a smaller act will never be able to wring a settlement out of a larger group. By taking legal action against Bronson, El Gran Combo challenges artists such as Bronson to behave ethically when sampling others' work and give credit where credit is due.

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