It all reminds me a bit of Gilbert O'Sullivan's ultimately successful action against Biz Markie after Markie sampled a substantial portion of O'Sullivan's 1972 song Alone Again (Naturally) in his song Alone Again In Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., 780 F.Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991), Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy granted an injunction against the defendant, Warner Bros. Records, to block the use of the unauthorised sample – O’Sullivan had actually been asked and refused permission to use part of what was clearly a very personal song (although O'Sullivan has denied it is autobiographical) and the court said "it is clear that the defendants knew that they were violating the plaintiff's rights as well as the rights of others. Their only aim was to sell thousands upon thousands of records. This callous disregard for the law and for the rights of others requires not only the preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiff but also sterner measures." Judge Duffy opened his findings with "Thou shall not steal", and proceeded to clarify that samples needed to be cleared and referred the case to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution (although this never happened). I do wonder what the Undertones and Blondie thought of One Direction's recent "mash up". As an old punk it quite ruined my day.
For a very quick and neat synopsis of the US position on music sampling, New York attorney Mita Carriman (Carriman Law Croup) has written a piece here http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/05/4-music-law-myths-that-indie-musicians-need-to-shake.html
And back in August 2011 Jeremy blogged a fascinating piece on copyright in old manuscripts and letters on the 1709 blog here http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/dead-author-old-manuscripts-live-issues.html and the appellate court decision in the 1987 US case of Salinger v Random House is a useful read too.