‘Can a farmer sue me for sampling his cows?’ Reddit user asks, gets hilarious community response

28 October 2020, 17:11 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 17:27

Reddit cow problem
Reddit cow problem. Picture: Getty/Reddit

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

“My neighbour is a farmer and I sampled his cows. Can he sue me?”

Reddit is one of the Internet’s most sacred spaces – ostensibly the only place you’re just as likely to get engrossed in an essay from a dude codenamed ‘Stockhausen’ on his plans to make classical music the most popular genre, as you are to become unhealthily invested in the disastrous consequences of the time a guy, upon meeting his girlfriend’s family for the first time, inexplicably pretended not to know what a potato was.

And in autumn 2020, it’s reassuring to see nothing has changed, as straight out of the gate we have a thread from Professional Tom – presumably a pseudonym – titled My neighbour is a farmer and I sampled his cows. Can he sue me? It has been shared far and wide, and absolutely milked dry by a Reddit community unwilling to sit on the fence.

Read Tom’s problem below and prepare to be, well, amoosed.

“I plan on using these sounds in my tracks. He saw me following the herd and recording a plethora of samples of his cows,” Tom writes.

“When he asked me what it is for, I said I will use them in a song. He laughed and didn't seem to mind. His son was there though, and he knows my artist name.

“Now I wonder whether they can take over my song if they change their minds because it contains sounds of their cows.

“Did anyone here have some similar experience in the past?”


The top comment, a very sensible offering, tells Tom there is “absolutely zero chance of any repercussions” from recording the farmer’s cows.

“How would he prove that the recording uses the sound of his cows, specifically?” he asks (fair point). “Do they sound more distinctive than other cows? There’s no claim to be made here whatsoever; you made the recording and it belongs to you.”

So ensues a debate on the legalities of recording the sound of someone else’s cows.

“There is no law that protects a sound being made, unless that sound can somehow be claimed to be intellectual property. You can’t sue someone for recording the wind through the trees on your property (but you can have them arrested for trespassing),” one user comments.

“Exactly,” another chimes in. “There are a few sounds that have intellectual rights, like some Star Wars sounds. But everything you record on your own is YOURS, as soon as you record the sound it’s copyrighted to you.

“The farmer might own the cows, but he doesn’t own the performance they make. In that case he could claim every cow that’s been recorded as his own.”

Another used raised the steaks further: “This is the most relevant comment. The cows have made the sound – not the farmer. For copyright to apply, it has to be an original work in a fixed medium by an author. This only applies to humans. A cow has no right to protect the sounds they make.”

Case dismissed, I guess.


On seeing the response to his original post, Tom edited it to add: “Holy cow, I didn’t think this thread would blow up like it did! Thanks for all the input ladies and gents!

“This thread inspired me to think of the title of the song, and among other ideas I think I will go with ‘If You Sue, God Help Those Cows’. The genre is metal.” (No bull)

“Also don’t worry about cows’ wellbeing, I love animals.”

Now that’s all over and our cheek muscles have recovered, here’s a video of some cattle congregating to hear an Irish jig played on accordion. Seems they enjoyed the moo-sic.

Sharon Shannon - Irish jig