Madonna didn’t breach of copyright with ‘Vogue’

‘Vogue’ has been cleared of breaching copyright, despite it including another artist’s song.

Madonna’s 1990 hit includes a segment lasting 0.23 seconds of a horn hit was lifted from the Salsoul Orchestra track ‘Love Break’.


The plaintiff, VMG Salsoul LLC, said Vogue’s producer, Rob ‘Shep’ Pettibone, who also worked on ‘Love Break’, used the sound clip without permission.

The clip in question can be heard in ‘Love break’ at 4.40 and in ‘Vogue’ at 1.02.

Because the sample was less than a second, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “without careful attention, the horn hits are easy to miss.” The average audience would not “recognise the appropriation of the composition”.

The court ruled 2-1 in favour to Madonna. Judge Barry Silverman, who voted against, said that “even a small sample of music used without a licence should be ruled a violation.”

He added: “It is no defence to theft that the thief made off with only a ‘de minimis’ part of the victim’s property.”

Madonna, Pettibone and Warner Brothers Records were all cleared of any offence.

The case contradicts a 2006 case brought against NWA who sampled the band Funkadelic. The 6th Circuit Tennessee judge in the case wrote in his ruling: “Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.”

The ruling means the 9th and 6th decisions now clash. This means that laws could change in the future so that short samples may be allowed in songs.

Madonna is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year, she was forced to apologise for pulling down a fans top at a concert.