The federal judges who held that an unauthorized two-second sample of a sound recording is enough to infringe a copyright agreed Dec. 20 to take a second look at their decision.

NEW YORK -- The federal judges who held that an unauthorized two-second sample of a sound recording is enough to infringe a copyright agreed Dec. 20 to take a second look at their decision.

The case revolves around N.W.A's sample of a Funkadelic guitar solo for "100 Miles and Runnin'," part of the soundtrack to the 1998 film "I Got the Hook Up," produced by Master P's No Limit Films. A license to use the Funkadelic recording was never obtained from owner Westbound Records.

In response to a copyright infringement suit filed by Westbound, No Limit claimed that copyright law does not require a license for the sampling of such a small, "de minimis" portion of a recording. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Nashville disagreed, and on Sept. 7 created a "new rule": two seconds sampled from a recording constitutes copyright infringement, even if the amount used is too small to infringe the underlying composition.

No Limit filed a petition on Sept. 21 requesting a rehearing by the same judges or an en banc hearing by the entire panel of federal judges in that circuit. The Recording Industry Assn. of America filed a petition supporting No Limit, claiming that the court misapplied copyright law as it pertains to recorded music.

After noting in the order that none of the Sixth Circuit judges requested a vote on the suggestion for a hearing en banc, the original three-judge panel concluded that the "issues raised in the petition and supporting amicus brief are worthy of additional consideration."

No Limit and Bridgeport must file briefs in late January and February, respectively. Attorneys for the parties were not available for comment.