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(The Root) -- Ever wonder why Vine videos are six seconds long? The reason may be rooted in hip-hop.

Inspired by the popularity of the gif, Twitter's micro-video-sharing app Vine is growing in popularity. The app allows users to create short looping videos of six seconds or less. It has led to a creative genre of media, and it's quickly emerging as a viable marketing tool for brands and corporations. It has also opened up a vintage conversation about copyrights and infringement that began when hip-hop exploded into the mainstream.

With hip-hop came the art of sampling: borrowing bits, pieces and snippets from other songs and including them in new instrumentals to be rapped over. The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa," for example, sampled the Isley Brothers' song "Between the Sheets." Similarly, Vine, in addition to allowing users to create their own original works, makes it possible to sample recorded, copyrighted visual material. Remember Miguel's failed stage jump at the Billboard Music Awards? Vine clips of the incident hit the Internet literally seconds after it happened. The question now: Does that constitute copyright infringement? What about gifs? Do they? What's the guideline?

Jeff Roberts of Gigaom has mused that the answer may lie in the Beastie Boys' song "Pass the Mic." A California appeals court ruled that a six-second flute sample used in the song did not constitute copyright infringement; it's possible the ruling influenced Vine's six-second limit.

Still, it can't be universally said that all Vine videos are exempt from infringement allegations, and it certainly won't stop people from policing the videos. Prince recently requested that Vine remove clips of one of his shows uploaded by a user.

Read more at Gigaom.

Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.