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Re: (OT) Copyright in a Sampled World...

please forgive selective snippage, here.

catblack@catblack.com writes:
>I agree with Caliban, that new laws are needed to keep up with technology.
>My opinion is that when sampling first arrived, the technology made it
>pretty easy to spot a sample. Additionally, big, bloated music interests
>(boo-hiss) made sample litagation a new industry. From what I've read,
>the threat of suing an artist is generally enough to make them pay or not 
>the sample.
.....'from what (you've) read'..... 'big bloated music interests'.....
i sample other folks' stuff. i clear the samples' useage, in advance: we 
it 'licensing', in my corner of the world.
i do not consider myself particularly big (nor bloated, though that could 
certainly be e-argued), but my perception tells me that i'm currently 
protected by (united states) copyright law.
this is not a remote, intellectual (ie, 'ivory tower') issue, for me:
my recordings have been regularly sampled and used by other folks, in 
in some cases, my 'work' has clearly been presented as if it were *their* 
'work'..... which rankles me enough to a) seek an apology, and b) invoking 
copyright law, seek legal recourse.
i have settled out-of-court, in these onerous cases.
why did the cases *not* go to court?
it was -obviously- *not* due to the fear inspired by the depth of my 
financial resources, it was because the 'artists' understood that they 
culpable for the responsibility of public mis-representation of 'their' 
potentially to the point of theft..... as they were getting paid for 
that materially included my unknowing & material involvement.

(one of the cases involved a composer, who used a 90-second sample of me 
solo, and unaltered --- at the emotional peak of his film-score. that 
was from one of my sample-discs, which he had *not* bought.....)

as an aside:
my first response to this kinda thing, many years ago, was to manufacture 
*sell* sample-discs containing loops of similar quality to what was 
being sampled;
interestingly --- as in the situation, noted above --- this has yielded 
more illegal (ie, unpaid-for) copying of even *more* material.

>I can imagine how it was presented to the courts, in the early days. The
>Judge has a set of good headphones on. They play him "Ice, Ice baby", and
>precedences are set. And while sampling and samplers are everywhere, the
>artists using them get branded as lazy... and some of them are, but the
>essential thing is that is re-enforced is that to use a sample, you have
>to pay. 
i have no problem w/that, esp. when the sampling is 'de maximus'.

>(Mind you, you could Onanastically sample yourself, like in the new
>Beta Band album. I perfer to think of sampling one's self as a production
>method, but the key point is that sampling has taken a bad rap.)
not from me! sample away: i will.
however, sampling brings ethical 'direction' to the forefront.

>But technology has changed. These days, I know I could sample pretty much
>anything and not even give a glimmer as to how it originally sounded.
that might be described as 'de minimus'-sampling, & may not be a material 
issue, at all.

>I have
>done it. The barriers are down. Now, to me, anything I hear is fodder for
>the mill. If I hear a nice drum break, I can slot it in, slice it up,
>replace the drum sounds and have a new break with the same rhythm. 
the more one alters the sample (ie, makes it dissimilar to the original), 
further one travels from current definitions of copyright 'theft'.

>If I
>someone's voice that strikes me a certian way, i can bring it in, slice
>it around, mess with the pitch, panning, effects... the palette is 
>And if you put the headphones on the judge, I doubt he'd hear the original
>shining through.
well. there ya go, then;
make yer own ethical decisions, & live w/them.

>[Sidenote: I confess that I'm a raving fanatic for DJ Shadow's
>"Endtroducing..." album. I've heard it at least 200 times and I'm still
>hearing small sonic details. It's 99 and 44/99ths percent samples. (The
>'beautiful girl' and 'came to america, saw xanadu' vocals aren't taken
>something else.) I truthfully feel it is a defining moment in the history
>sampled music, and a classic.]
i dig it, too, but i'd say it was more of a defining moment in the history 
*popularising* sampled music.
after all, should historical events be defined by what is 'popular', eg 
people like & know most', eg what is best-distributed & best-selling?

>There need to be clear fair-use guideline for samples.
the history of 'justice' seems to show that clarity & rigidity will 
*not* prove 100%-functionality, as regards an ethical issue..... *any* 
ethical issue.
law is fluid; there's the beauty (& horror) of individual cases being 

>If I took a magazine
>ad and used it in a collage, I'm granted protection according to US law.
>I did the same with a Beatles track (assume that you couldn't tell it was
>the Beatles, that I would have to tell you) I would be open to litigation
>under our current laws.
unless you clear the sample, before the work's release:
like using another author's arrangement-of-thoughts-in-words in *my* new 
book, in which case that author's words are quoted 'by kind permission of 
mssr. le mot', etc.....

>Never one to drone endlessly about an agrument, I offer you this

>You can hear the Beatles (or at least Paul) in the second example, but
>the 1st. (Note in the 1st, I'm using it twice, an octave up and an octive
>down!) Still, from all I've read about copyright law, I could get sued
>for both useages.
(well, sure, but: in america, one can be sued by fish for breathing too 
so. is the sample-use 'material', and is your work 'for sale'?

>I'll gladly slurp up any links anyone has about copyright law and what
>one can reasonably 'get away with' or not. But honestly, it's time to put 
>headphones on a judge again.
the judge is deaf, as are most.
dt / s-c