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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
Posts: 2509
Loc: Outside Mothercare
Sampling - theft or creative re-use?
      #500164 - 11/08/07 05:44 PM
I came across this short documentary on You Tube:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mBfkFNpknI

It's a one-sided argument for the pro-samplers. I would like to have seen the argument put for those who have had their work copied, and especially from those who have sued.

The documentary strives very hard to convince us all that copying someone elses work is okay. I'm not sure that it succeeds for me.

There is the question of "extent" which is only alluded to in the documentary, and which I think should have been explored further. One commentator states that if an artist samples a snare drum from a Rolling Stones record, should the Rolling Stones be entitled to 100% of the remix royalties? Unfortunately, the documentary does not explore the query any further. That's a shame, because if there is a justification for sampling without obtaining consent, everything must come down to the extent of the music being sampled.

It's an interesting documentary nonetheless, whatever your views on this controversial subject.


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ghellquist



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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500166 - 11/08/07 05:51 PM
What contriversy? The "bling-bling" rappers like burning a lot of money. They clearly make them somehow. So, clear the samples or rerecord them. Simple as that!

Gunnar


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
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Loc: Outside Mothercare
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: ghellquist]
      #500169 - 11/08/07 05:53 PM
Quote ghellquist:

What contriversy? The "bling-bling" rappers like burning a lot of money. They clearly make them somehow. So, clear the samples or rerecord them. Simple as that!

Gunnar





Okay, but what do you think about the documentary. Did it win you over? If not, why not?


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John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio


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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500173 - 11/08/07 06:17 PM
Sampling is theft - full stop.

If you sample it should be done with credit given and fee paid.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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dementedchord



Joined: 27/08/06
Posts: 319
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500180 - 11/08/07 06:29 PM
total bullshit... if they could write something... we'll actuall i'm not sure that they would... intellectually dishonest..... is it less plagaristic because it's a snippet??? not for me... just more dumbing down as far as i'm concerned...


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
Posts: 2509
Loc: Outside Mothercare
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: John Willett]
      #500181 - 11/08/07 06:31 PM
Quote John Willett:

Sampling is theft - full stop.

If you sample it should be done with credit given and fee paid.





John, I agree with you. What did you think of the documentary?

Towards the end, the documentary seemed to be striving after a change in the law, whereby the "extent" of the copying is taken into account. Is this an argument that you think has any merit? Is the sampling of one snare drum hit substantively the same as sampling a melody line? Should the law be applied in the same way regardless? If so, how could it effectively be policed (on the basis that you'd probably never know where the snare drum came from anyway)?

Does it make any difference that the hip-hop chaps in the documentary were using vinyl records only for scratching "textures" and were not at all interested in playing or recording the actual melodies on the records?

Is there any point whatsoever in my trying to create a sensible debate on this subject, or is it simply going to turn into a mono-sylabic, pavolovian-knee-jerk-response "all sampling is theft" tread?

Watch the documentary. It is not, as far as I can tell, about the blind (or bland) copying of music, rather the reuse of music to add textures to original songs.

Or is it all the same thing?

We all know what the law says. The documentary pays lip service to the current laws on copyright. Does the law need clarifying in order to differentiate between different types of sample usage? Or is all use to be considered illegal?

Constructive comments, please!


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
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Loc: Outside Mothercare
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: dementedchord]
      #500183 - 11/08/07 06:34 PM
Quote dementedchord:

total bullshit... if they could write something... we'll actuall i'm not sure that they would... intellectually dishonest..... is it less plagaristic because it's a snippet??? not for me... just more dumbing down as far as i'm concerned...





Excellent comment. But what did you think of the documentary?

Is there merit at all in any of what you saw/heard?

Is "scratching" the same as simply copying a loop and playing it back as the main back-bone of a track?


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Steve Hill
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500185 - 11/08/07 06:51 PM
Sampling a single snare drum hit is not just dumb, it's lazy. Even I can hit a snare drum once, record it, and process it to come up with the desired sound. So why nick say Charlie Watts doing it?

From that point we move to more than one hit, but really it's still lazy. I have never seen any musical merit in it because of this (for me) insuperable objection.

--------------------
Dynamite with a laser beam...


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table for two
active member


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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500192 - 11/08/07 07:07 PM
Shortest route to where ever.



Brief :

Want a 60's drum sound that sounds elemental with matching ambience.
Suitable bassline played by a funked up jazz rock mutant.
Keys from a far out dude called Zeus.



Realisation:

Dang haven't got the skills nor the musicianship to do dat.
Nor the talent, nor gear, nor the recording techinques.



Result:

*Bling*
I know ... I'll sample.
Hey thats creativity right ...
I mean I've just gotta find the exact groove and the exact bassline and the exact keys from hundreds of records.
Man that takes rare skill.
Then I gotta chop it up and glue it all together.



Man so glad I went to kindergarten to learn how to cut n paste ... with Pritt Stick ...
That reminds me ... time for a sniff.




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John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio


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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: table for two]
      #500196 - 11/08/07 07:12 PM


Got it in one.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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audioartist



Joined: 08/09/06
Posts: 505
Loc: herts
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: Steve Hill]
      #500205 - 11/08/07 07:25 PM
they argue that sampling is more about stealing the sound than the musical ideas

but i think if the sampled piece is longer than a bar in length that constitutes stealing a musical idea and should be paid for

whereas a sample less than a bar is more like stealing a sound, so should that be paid for?

im not sure...

sounds exist in nature, so should be free but musical ideas dont so should be paid for...

tricky subject

its like, if a man is photographed walking down the street and that picture is put in an art gallery and sold for £10,000

should the man receive anything? the law says no and that by leaving your house you have no expectations of privacy

so by publishing your music, isn't that similar?

just my two cents


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Rob C



Joined: 10/02/03
Posts: 8434
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: audioartist]
      #500208 - 11/08/07 07:33 PM
Quote audioartist:

...if a man is photographed walking down the street and that picture is put in an art gallery and sold for £10,000

should the man receive anything? the law says no and that by leaving your house you have no expectations of privacy

so by publishing your music, isn't that similar?




All the man has done is to have light bounce off him... we all do that as long as the sun's up.

The composers and performers on the other hand did somewhat more than that... so there's no similarity.

If we all made music whenever light bounced off us you'd have an argument... and I don't mean JMJ's laser keyboard.

But strictly speaking sampling (without a license) is not theft... it's infringement.

--------------------
www.bemuso.com


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: John Willett]
      #500215 - 11/08/07 07:44 PM
If musicians had the same attitude to chord sequences as a lot of engineers and producers seem to have to sampling - namely "screw you buddy!" - then no music would ever get written for fear of infringing copyright. Certainly, whoever came up with the 12 bar blues sequence would be pretty rich...

Why is using a small fragment of a recording a cardinal sin, yet ripping off a chord sequence considered fair game? What makes the intellectual property of an engineer worth more than that of a composer?

In addition, has anyone ever tried clearing copyright for anything? Maybe not exactly the same, but I recently tried contacting a book publisher to see if I could get permission to use a quote from a book as a band name. Weeks later and no reply.

The failure to introduce fair use laws for sampling had a hugely negative effect on hip-hop and other sample based genres, ensuring that the only artists who could continue to sample legally were those artists on the labels with the clout and finance to clear each and every sample. To quote Naomi Klein in No Logo:

"When Beck, a major-label artist, makes an album parked with hundreds of samples, Warner Music clears the rights to each and every piece of the audio collage and the work is lauded for capturing the media-saturated, multi-referenced sounds of our age. But when independent artists do the same thing, trying to cut and paste together art from their branded lives... it's criminalized - defined as theft, not art."

Copyright laws on sampling at the moment serve only to create a look-but-don't-touch culture. Regardless of the morality of 'stealing' samples (steal? does it magically disappear from the original record or something...), consider the power of music making to bring meaning and purpose to people's lives, combined with the popularity of sampling in 'urban' music.

Surely it is more beneficial to society as a whole, that sampling is tolerated to some degree, than to render this form of creativity illegal (or at least prohibitively expensive) to the vast majority of musicians?


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__
Who's never been here


Joined: 28/11/02
Posts: 6263
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500230 - 11/08/07 08:01 PM
I'm not anti sampling, it's just another art form and theres nothing intrinsically wrong with this kind of collage - you can't un-ring the bell. I am however for paying and giving credit to the original artist.

Matt Black sums it up for me, and makes the strongest case for the against free usage [appropriation] camp. He says, "a good appropriated sample has those two qualities. It has a good quality of it's own, and it has a strong reference that evokes cultural resonance aswell."

Thats the whole problem. These guys arent searching through a load of old never hasbeen disks looking for a decent sound because they don't have the resources to record the sound themselves. One could argue all the usual arguments about copyright theft if they did just that, but one could also be a little bit more forgiving because they would just using whats around to make something new - that would be to me a true and innocent collage, using things which have been shown over time to have little value in retrospect, a bit like going through a skip.

However, they arent just looking through the skip, they are looking through the french windows and eyeing up the silver.

A good appropriated sample has those two qualities. It has a good quality of it's own, and it has a strong reference that evokes cultural resonance aswell.

This means that they are taking something far more important and valuable than just a sound, they are looking first for a good sound, one that is well played and recorded and works in the context of their track. Now i don't know about you, but ive slaved for hours to play and record something 'just right', yes its just a little flick or the finger that nails it just so, but it can be a lot of work and blood sweat and tears, and it can be instantly recognisable on a successful record, which brings the next point....

A good appropriated sample has those two qualities. It has a good quality of it's own, and it has a strong reference that evokes cultural resonance aswell.

Thats the real sh!tter afaic. What goes into that? How much work, good will, promotion, longevity, skill, tears, broken marriages, addictions, life even, goes into giving a sound a strong cultural reference? It's like peeling off someones face and then shagging their missus! Slapping their trading name on your record cover and promotional material and 'being them'. To me its the worst kind of theft because they arent just stealing a thing, they are stealing along with it the things that make the thing great in the first place.

And as we know, once a sample of any length has been used on a successful record, its grafted into the public consiousness, and it takes something away from the original.

I say okay, use it if you must, but get permission and pay. And, give the original artist[s] the right to withdraw their permission when they hear your finished piece.


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Steve House



Joined: 25/06/06
Posts: 65
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500232 - 11/08/07 08:03 PM
Quote Happyandbored:

...
Surely it is more beneficial to society as a whole, that sampling is tolerated to some degree, than to render this form of creativity illegal (or at least prohibitively expensive) to the vast majority of musicians?




As far as I know, no one is trying to making the use of samples illegal. They're simply saying if you DO use them, the original creators deserve to be compensated for their contribution. If a band sells a record would it be fair that only some of the musicians get paid? Likewise, if you release a song that could not exist in that form except for the contribution made by the person whose work you have sampled - you couldn't have made the song the same way without the existence of the sample you used, in other words - does that person not have a right to share in the rewards?


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Rob C



Joined: 10/02/03
Posts: 8434
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500242 - 11/08/07 08:18 PM
Quote Happyandbored:

Copyright laws on sampling at the moment serve only to create a look-but-don't-touch culture.




Only for 'artists' who are unable to make their own art.

Quote Happyandbored:

Surely it is more beneficial to society as a whole, that sampling is tolerated to some degree...




Whoever wrote this needs to get out more. Sampling is everywhere...

--------------------
www.bemuso.com


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: __]
      #500246 - 11/08/07 08:33 PM
Quote ow:


I say okay, use it if you must, but pay.




It begs the question, if you're so concerned about your work being misused, why release it to the public at all?

Sampling doesn't necessarily have to be free, but there does have to be an easy and above all, affordable way of registering those samples. Otherwise copyright is no longer protecting the rights of the majority of musicians, but is in fact censoring them.

You make the point that a good sample has a "cultural resonance" - of course, that's the point! It's not particularly about making good-sounding records on the cheap, but more to make the links in the listener's mind where there were none before. All art builds on past creativity to some degree (Lessig: Free Culture), surely it's more important in this case to protect an entire form of creativity, than the rights of a few over-protective musicians?


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fletcher



Joined: 01/05/05
Posts: 1215
Loc: london
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500247 - 11/08/07 08:33 PM
Interestingly you can't copyright a chord sequence.

Just to add to this argument, some artists careers have been saved/extended by virtue of being popular sources of samples - George Clinton for example. They don't mind so long as they get the credit.

Also sometimes (it is rare I admit) I like a track that has been built on a loop more than the original - Angie Stone's "Wish I didn't Miss You" uses an O'Jays songs intro where the original isn't that memorable.

Musicians have always pinched things in the past - listen to Rod Stewarts "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" then go find a copy of the best of Bobby Womack (I forget which track) and you will find the main string line might as well have been sampled.

Personally I'm bored stiff with it, but I'm just as bored of all programmed drums - I want to hear a drummer again. Being a musician I really appreciate when the engineer gets a good drum sound - hope you all get enough practice at micing those drums these days

Is it that easy to wade through records until you find a few samples that will make a good track? I don't think I would have the patience for it. There is probably an element of hit and miss I guess.

The main music to suffer from this is soul/funk music (please don't call it urban). This is because creating those old time grooves isn't easy - those bands were hot! They could groove in a way no bunch of session musicians ever will, and to me thats the problem - when was the last time a "band" of this genre got a record deal? It's too easy to sample and get some teeny bopper to sing on top of it.

So for me I don't think the artist suffers much when their old work is sampled (it can keep them hip a while longer), rather it is music as a whole suffers as it takes away the chance for the new grooves to ever get played or developed.

Sampling itself can be artistic though - well at least as artistic as an Andy Warhol painting.


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500251 - 11/08/07 08:39 PM
I was interested in the comments of one of the black hip hop artists featured in the documentary, who said that he and other poor kids used samples as their instruments. They couldn't afford to buy all the gear to make the sounds that they wanted to make their records, so they "borrowed" those sounds from other artists.

Again, the artist was not interested in copying the melodies, or the catch-lines in any of the songs, but wanted to use the textures as instruments over which to place his own songs.

Have a look at this:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvxNdhZXpI4

The musician here is using samples, but he is not simply looping those samples, rather he is using them as textures to create a new song. Even the vocal sample that he uses has been changed, so that not even the original melody is used. Also, the phrasing of the words is used to create a completely different vocal phrase.

Is this theft? Is there absolutely no case to be made out for this type of usage?

And if you are of the opinion that there is no case, can you, at the very least, admit that this is art? Does it being art justify the use of the samples?

What's the difference between this type of sampling (creative use of sounds) and Andy Warhol's exact copying of Campbell's soup tins? Who is the greater thief?


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fletcher



Joined: 01/05/05
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Loc: london
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500255 - 11/08/07 08:44 PM
Andy Warhol


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: Steve House]
      #500260 - 11/08/07 08:55 PM
Quote Steve House:

Quote Happyandbored:

...
Surely it is more beneficial to society as a whole, that sampling is tolerated to some degree, than to render this form of creativity illegal (or at least prohibitively expensive) to the vast majority of musicians?




As far as I know, no one is trying to making the use of samples illegal. They're simply saying if you DO use them, the original creators deserve to be compensated for their contribution. If a band sells a record would it be fair that only some of the musicians get paid? Likewise, if you release a song that could not exist in that form except for the contribution made by the person whose work you have sampled - you couldn't have made the song the same way without the existence of the sample you used, in other words - does that person not have a right to share in the rewards?




I don't think you really read my post properly. I did not say anywhere that artists shouldn't be paid for samples. Remember, I pointed out my own problems in trying to get permission to use a quote from a book? There is no system in place for quickly clearing copyright.

If a whole form of creativity (maybe one that some people don't like, but a lot of people do) is rendered inaccessible because it is either too difficult or too expensive to clear copyright, then that is wrong. However, If the result of an alternative system is lower revenue (not necessarily none) for the sampled artist, then so be it. That is better than wiping out a whole artform before it's even got off the ground. As it is at the moment, you'll find it very difficult to even talk to the right person about clearing the sample anyway. What about the rights of those musicians to be creative in their chosen way?


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: Rob C]
      #500267 - 11/08/07 09:06 PM
Quote Rob C.:

Quote Happyandbored:

Copyright laws on sampling at the moment serve only to create a look-but-don't-touch culture.




Only for 'artists' who are unable to make their own art.

Quote Happyandbored:

Surely it is more beneficial to society as a whole, that sampling is tolerated to some degree...




Whoever wrote this needs to get out more. Sampling is everywhere...




But specifically we're talking about sampling of copyrighted sounds and the degree to which those samples are protected under law. Whether people get away with it in real life is irrelevant.

Re: Only for 'artists' who are unable to make their own art.

Yes well, Whoever wrote this needs to get out more. Sampling is everywhere...


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: fletcher]
      #500273 - 11/08/07 09:15 PM
Quote fletcher:

Interestingly you can't copyright a chord sequence.





And the reason you can't copyright a chord sequence is because lawmakers realise that to do so would make it near impossible for musicians to make music - at least legally!

In a perfect world, ditto sampling.


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ghellquist



Joined: 09/09/04
Posts: 628
Loc: Stockolm, Sweden
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500284 - 11/08/07 09:32 PM
There are two different copyrights here really.
- the song (music and lyrics): copyright goes to the composer and stays for 75 years after the last composer is dead. (normally not the problem here)
- the sound (the actual recording): copyright is generally 50 years after it was first released to the public. (generally what is called samples)

There are legal details to this, but to keep it very simple - ask for permission to use the sounds before you release the songs to the public. If you cannot get permission or the price is wrong, rerecord it. Nothing is hindering any creative process here, it is only hindering the commercial process. Two different things.

Gunnar

Edited by ghellquist (11/08/07 09:34 PM)


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: ghellquist]
      #500288 - 11/08/07 09:51 PM
RE:
Nothing is hindering any creative process here, it is only hindering the commercial process. Two different things.

Rubbish! How can a musician earn a living or even get his/her work to a public audience, if he runs the risk of getting sued? Of course it is hindering the creative process.


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500307 - 11/08/07 11:19 PM
Quote Happyandbored:

Rubbish! How can a musician earn a living or even get his/her work to a public audience, if he runs the risk of getting sued? Of course it is hindering the creative process.



Rubbish! It's always been thus even before sampling was introduced to the masses - write a song or a melody that bears too close a resemblance to another published work and you run the risk of legal action under grounds of plagiarism (see George Harrison). Sampling other people's music to use as the foundation for your own is plagiarism writ large.

But it's not unique to the music world either. If I wrote a book called 'Barry Totter and the magician's cloak', the tale of a young orphan boy who discovers he has magic powers and has to go in search of a legendary wizard's cloak, I would get short thrift from Bloomsbury - and rightly so - especially if I had copied and pasted text from JK Rowling's books and made some changes. Do you think I'd stand a cat in hell's chance if, in court, my defence was "Well m'lud - I did have to do a lot of creative work to make the text fit my plotline"! Bollox! I would be sued big time for plagiarism, use of IP and for capitalising on a well established 'brand' and exploiting it to my commercial advantage and financial gain.

I simply don't get this application of 'sampling' - sampling someone else music and wittering over the top of it is, to me, no more creative than me drawing a moustache over a photocopy of the Mona Lisa or running Hockney's 'Bigger Splash' through some Photoshop plug in and calling it 'my own'.

I respect the skill of a good turntablist (but don't understand the appeal given that it all sounds so clichéd now) but that's a different discipline and very different to sampling whole sections of a well known song and adding your own bits. That's just a kind of 'urban karaoke' with attitude.

I was listening to some Kanye West recently and it was all primarily samples of other people's music over which he rabbitted on about motherf'ker nigger ho's and shizzle. I don't see a lot of 'art' or skill in that - in fact, I see absolutely none.

In fact, all I see is a fairly talentless individual capitalising on the 'brand' and the ''cultural resonance" of well-known songs and their creators (not to mention the stupidity of the record companies that release it, the video/radio stations that play it 24/7 and the gullibility of the people who buy it).

I don't see how you can say that copyright protection is hindering an artist's creativity when the processes he employs to make 'music' (ahem) is not creative to begin with.

But if people are going to do it, they must pay for the use not of a chord sequence or a riff or a melody but for the use of a copyrighted phonographic recording and composition. And if they can't afford that.... tuff shizzle.

--------------------
Website / Music Lab Machines / Blog


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: ghellquist]
      #500308 - 11/08/07 11:22 PM
Quote ghellquist:

There are two different copyrights here really.
- the song (music and lyrics): copyright goes to the composer and stays for 75 years after the last composer is dead. (normally not the problem here)
- the sound (the actual recording): copyright is generally 50 years after it was first released to the public. (generally what is called samples)





You're missing the point. With compostion, it is perfectly ok to rip off the chord sequence for a track. Hence why TV documentary makers can and often do hire musicians to make sound-a-like versions of well-known tracks, rather going through the long, drawn out and considerably more expensive process of gaining the rights to the original music. The amount of protection to the composition given by law is limited, because if it wasn't then the damage both to musicians and the music industry would be considerable.

Why should the protection granted to recordings not be similarly restricted in order to preserve other sections of the industry and other forms of creativity? The fact is that it is not easy or cheap to clear a sample, let alone a hundred. Often, it is difficult even contacting the copyright holder, let alone coming to an agreement! Where as this maybe great for the sampled musician's ego - "only I have created this sound, no one else is allowed to use it no matter how much I force it into the public arena!") - it is bad for creativity as a whole, as a human activity for us all to share in.

Ideally, I would like to see a system where by if you release a track comercially which contains samples you do not have to ask permission first. However, you are legally obliged to declare all copyrighted samples and resigster them. A percentage of royalties set by the regulating body, NOT the copyright holder, is then taken and distributed evenly to the owners of those samples. That way people are still making many from samples but any money is proportional to income. Perhaps such a system could be integrated with the MCPS or PPL?


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Steve Hill
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500309 - 11/08/07 11:24 PM
Quote Happyandbored:

Quote ow:


I say okay, use it if you must, but pay.




It begs the question, if you're so concerned about your work being misused, why release it to the public at all?




That's just silly, you also need a release - consent from the existng copyright holder. You can't just plunder it and say "here's your cheque, I've done you a favour, now go away and shut up".

Try sampling e.g. some instantly recognisable Beatles hook or something, and see if any label will touch you with a bargepole. They know the clearance will never, ever, be forthcoming. And why shouldn't the Beatles be able to veto their work being use to accompany (say) some brain-dead thug extolling the virtues of using guns to kill people? Yoko Ono might be expected to have strong views on that subject.

Respecting people's intellectual property is no different to resisting the temptation to burgle their house.

Quote Happyandbored:

Rubbish! How can a musician earn a living or even get his/her work to a public audience, if he runs the risk of getting sued? Of course it is hindering the creative process.




This is not about sampling. Copyright infringers have always been liable to being sued. Do something original and you won't get sued.

If you can't do something original you are not a musician and not worthy of the name, or the pay.

It really is that simple.

--------------------
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Edited by Steve Hill (11/08/07 11:34 PM)


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #500316 - 11/08/07 11:41 PM
With respect, Hollowsun, you are looking at a very specific end of the market and IMO the shite end of the market. Most sampling that goes on, you wouldn't even know that it had happened, even if the artist had used extremely well-known sounds. That's because the samples are used as textures.

One of the things that I love about Kontakt or my VariOS is that I can load up a sample and effectively use it as an oscillator. I can change its frequencies, its formants, its tempo. I can add filters, lfos and fx. You wouldn't know what it was that I was using. It's just a sound.

Should that be illegal? And if you answer "yes" then how are you going to police it? A direct comparison with the original track and what I produce with it will reveal two completely different tracks. There has been a form of copying, but its not the type of copying anticipated by our antique copyright laws.

There are some great artists out there making some fantasticially original music, using oscillators taken from other artists work. Not because they particularly want to, or because they are lazy, or because they lack the talent to create their own music. Quite the contrary, in fact, they have immense talent, wonderful musical vision, and a great ear for music. The stuff they write is original. The main (if not the only) reason they use samples is because they can't afford a whole load of synths, guitars, drums, mixing desks, outboard gear, etc. And they haven't had the breaks in life to enable them to learn the instruments (which they can't afford, in the first place). But they can afford a MPC1000 and some second hand records that no one else will probably ever listen to anyway. But with such simple tools, they create original works.

They borrow sounds to create their own music.

Where there is an out and out copying of someone elses work, set up as loops and used as the backbone of a track, I agree with you, it is usually shoddy. Some of these tracks are little more than very poor remixes, usually with a catchy bit of the original tune loops and sped up with stupid mickey-mouse vocals, and a very dubious "rap" line interspersed.

I'm not talking about that type of rape theft. That's the type of sampling you appear to be criticising, and I don't really think you are going to have many people who will disagree with you that permission should be sought for clearance of those samples.

But what about where the lines are blurred? What about those many many occasions where the sampling artist is merely using sounds as textures? Surely the original artist suffers no damage there! Why should the law seek to compensate him? What is so illegal in what he does, when Andy Warhol's blatent photocopying of soup tins is deemed art?


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #500325 - 11/08/07 11:59 PM
Re: .. tuff shizzle.

See that kind of attitude comes across to me as a little arrogant and pretty selfish. Not you personally, but that approach in general.

We're not really talking about the plot-lines for books and Harry Potter doesn't strike me as a particularly orginal piece of fantasy anyway. However, I actually think you're wrong there - copyright law doesn't protect ideas and I suspect that that extends to characters and plot-ideas. I may be mistaken here, but it's difficult to imagine the Tolkien estate giving permission for 'Bored of the Rings' - as far as I'm aware, paradies are exempt under fair use. The Tolkien Estate did indeed succeed in forcing Gary Gygax, creator of the Dungeons and Dragons, to change several of the characters names in the game - "hobbit to halfling, ent to treant, and balrog to Type VI demon (balor)[!]" (wikipedia), but the descriptions of the creatures themselves were strangely familiar. It was basically Lord of the Rings the role play game. A total rip-off of Tolkien's work in roleplay game form, but some people love it... The point is that Gygax ripped off Tolkien and created something new that means a lot to a small minority of slightly strange people. If copyright laws affecting literature were as draconian as recording copyright, Gygax would have got his arse sued and it's likely that a whole creative industry would have got struck down in it's prime.

Once again, this concept of limited copyright exists in print as well as in music publishing, why not recording?

You say that you "don't get sampling", which is fine, but a lot of people do. Why make it more difficult for them than it already is? Don't they have the right to make music in a meaningful way too?


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
Posts: 5483
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500332 - 12/08/07 12:48 AM
Quote Happyandbored:

You're missing the point. With compostion, it is perfectly ok to rip off the chord sequence for a track.



There is no copyright or intellectual rights to a chord progression or a scale or arpeggio or even 'style'.

This, for example, is extremely creative:



This is not (IMO):



That's just blatant, unoriginal bollox designed to use and exploit a "cultural resonance" to give credence to a piece of sh!t masqueraded as 'art' created by a marketing charlatan as are (IMO) other such examples ... such as this:



Quote Happyandbored:

Ideally, I would like to see a system where by if you release a track comercially which contains samples you do not have to ask permission first.



Not gonna happen because as well as wanting to protect their IP, compositional and performance rights, artists will also want to protect their 'brand image'.

Under your scheme (unapproved usage with a royalty percentage due by default), someone could (for example) take a section from the Pet Shop Boys' 'West End Girls' and use it as the foundation for a toxic anti-gay rap (which wouldn't be the first time!). The PSBs, their record company and publishers would not sanction that.

Furthermore, how would you fix default percentages and who would determine 'usage' in any given record? Some sampled snippet may represent just 1% of a record ... or could be 95% responsible for its worldwide commercial success.

As I see it, you are trying to defend the indefensible. Sampling in this context is 'theft' of IP and copyright and exploitation of brand image, etc.. Be prepared to pay for the privilege of exploiting someone else's creativity and talent and 'brand' in your music if you want to but don't protest with some faux concept of a repression of creativity. It's a lame argument that has no legs morally or legally.

--------------------
Website / Music Lab Machines / Blog


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
Posts: 5483
Loc: Cowbridge, South Wales
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500333 - 12/08/07 01:08 AM
Quote leslawrenson:

With respect, Hollowsun, you are looking at a very specific end of the market and IMO the shite end of the market.



But a very profitable one.

Quote leslawrenson:

One of the things that I love about Kontakt or my VariOS is that I can load up a sample and effectively use it as an oscillator. I can change its frequencies, its formants, its tempo. I can add filters, lfos and fx. You wouldn't know what it was that I was using. It's just a sound.

Should that be illegal?



That IS a very different argument, Les. And I have no strong opinions on it to be honest and would even veer towards some degree of acceptance in principle.

But where does one draw the line?

Sampling something, regarding that as an oscillator waveform and totally transforming and mangling it using modern DSP with skill and knowledge (or even serendipity) is one thing; routinely shoving it through a phase shifter, flanger or lowpass filter - or just using it as is looped over which you witter and claiming it as 'your own work' is another. I am sure you understand the distinction.

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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: Steve Hill]
      #500334 - 12/08/07 01:09 AM
Re: That's just silly, you also need a release - consent from the existng copyright holder. You can't just plunder it and say "here's your cheque, I've done you a favour, now go away and shut up".

Well no you can't. I'm arguing that you should be able to, that it is actually damaging to music (albeit a genre music you don't respect), that copyright is enforced to this degree.

Re: Try sampling e.g. some instantly recognisable Beatles hook or something, and see if any label will touch you with a bargepole. They know the clearance will never, ever, be forthcoming.

That's exactly my point! You may not like the idea of someone sampling the Beatles, but it's precisely the result of that, that most of us can't do that in any meaningful way.

Re: your Yoko Ono/animal rights example -
The issue of moral rights is a tricky one, but it needs to be weighed up: How often is anyone likely to do that for any reason other than comedy value? What does music as a whole stand to gain and lose with less draconian copyright laws? In fact, the BBC are already allowed to use whatever music they like in their shows, thanks to blanket license agreement* with the PRS/MCPS. This resulted in lots of complaints from Cliff Richard when some of his music got used without his permission in the BBC3 comedy 'Monkeydust'. If you like Monkeydust, you will likely find this very funny. (* incidentally, this agreement does not extend commercial side of the BBC, so when the series was released on DVD, the music was replaced.)

I think it shows a lack of humour on Cliff Richard's part, no one is forcing him to watch it and I strongly doubt any of his fans are going to bother to watch the show. Personally, I would love my music to be misused this way, even in support of causes I despise. I would be happy that my music would be reaching an audience who would otherwise never hear it and hopeful that whatever message contained in my music would seap into their minds, along with whatever vile cause it was being used to promote.

However, the point is why is it deemed okay for the BBC to do this, but not the rest of us?

Re: Respecting people's intellectual property is no different to resisting the temptation to burgle their house.

It's pretty different I think. If I 'steal' your chord pattern you still have your song; If I 'steal' your recording of a snare drum, you still have your recording; if I steal your snare drum, then unless you're a pretty exceptional drummer, you're shafted. Also burglary, if my memory serves me right, implies theft with violence, so you'll also get a good kick in from me...

Re: This is not about sampling. Copyright infringers have always been liable to being sued.

Erm, yes, it is about sampling. That's what we're talking about. Just to clarify, I was also talking about *changing the law* so that certain *copyright infringers* would *cease to be* copyright infringers. I've pointed out many examples where copyright is restricted in order to protect aspects of creativity, why not with sampling too?

Re: Do something original and you won't get sued.

Or, rip off the chord pattern from a Stranglers song, as the Manic Street Preachers did a few years back with 'If you tolerate this...' and don't get sued. It seems strange how 'theft' is ok for a rock band, but not for a hip-hop artist... This really is a case of law not keeping up with technology.

Re: If you can't do something original you are not a musician and not worthy of the name, or the pay.

Of course, it is fine for artists with the label support and money to clear all their samples - they're heralded as geniuses, they deserve the pay... The rest of us are thieving scum.

I don't understand how using samples automatically makes an artist's work unoriginal. This is getting away from what we're really talking about, as obviously copyright isn't an issue here, but most modern keyboards are PCM sample-based. So if someone uses a keyboard, they're incable of creating original music? Your argument doesn't really follow.


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Mark Knutson
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Joined: 25/03/03
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: John Willett]
      #500336 - 12/08/07 01:42 AM
Quote John Willett:

Sampling is theft - full stop.

If you sample it should be done with credit given and fee paid.




Agreed, not a complex issue. I'm not going to watch the video, but if one hopes to get paid for their creative efforts while stealing the creative efforts of others, that is the height of hypocracy. And the courts have agreed, from what I have read.


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Les



Joined: 22/02/05
Posts: 1235
Loc: Alloa flat, studio and rural/u...
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: leslawrenson]
      #500337 - 12/08/07 02:03 AM
I havent viewed the docu, but one thing about the "sampling is theft" argument has always confused or bewildered me.

As some folk have said, we (the generic "we") can often find ourselves unwittingly plagiarising things like chord sequences, and yet, taking a small snapshot from an existing song or some other audio source is considered a bit dubious - even IF clearance is granted and fee is paid.

But what about synth patches? Lets say there's a section in a track that features one sound in isolation played for a short period of time. The samplist thinks "mmm, like that, Im 'avin it", and duly samples it - but if that sound is a factory preset in isolation (ok im nit-picking a bit here I know , but it's just an illustration), it would still, I prsume, require clearance. However, if we were to use the same patch/preset, with, say, the same processing - in our own music - in other words use the original sound - that is ok.

So it seems to be partly an issue of context perhaps? I may (yet again) be talking rubbish, but it's a thought that's hovered around in my head for many years.

Slightly tangential but - how many of us have created some music, and then left it in mothballs (all of us lets face it) - only for something eerily similar to crop up as a release sometime later. Youre then in the position that, if you still like the idea you had, and want to resurrect it in the future - will you be accused of ripping someone else off?

Just some more grist - I know not the answers.

Good thread tho.

--------------------
"If I had all the money i'd spent on drink, i'd spend it on drink". Vivian Stanshall


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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
Posts: 202
Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #500339 - 12/08/07 02:12 AM
Personally, I thought the Beatles track was just as dull as the other two tracks. So you found two examples of very uncreative sampling, so what? Perhaps it's genius and we're blind to it. I suspect not, but there are better examples out there.

By the way, have you ever heard Cassette Boy?

Re: Under your scheme (unapproved usage with a royalty percentage due by default), someone could (for example) take a section from the Pet Shop Boys' 'West End Girls' and use it as the foundation for a toxic anti-gay rap (which wouldn't be the first time!). The PSBs, their record company and publishers would not sanction that.

So a whole style of music should be rendered illegal to the masses, because there are idiots out there who abuse their freedoms? There are supposed to be laws to deal with incitement. Do you really think it would ever get played on the radio, in light of the outcry last year? It is just as plausible that the Manic Street Preachers *could* right a song that sounds suspiciously like a certain Stranglers song, changing the lyrics to: "So if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot faggots". Should we tighten up copyright laws on compositions and chord sequences on the off chance that someone could abuse that freedom too?

Re: Furthermore, how would you fix default percentages and who would determine 'usage' in any given record? Some sampled snippet may represent just 1% of a record ... or could be 95% responsible for its worldwide commercial success.

Those are questions for the imaginary organisation which sets up this system... As for percentages, it seems no more or less cock-eyed than the PRS decreeing that 50% of royalties automatically go to the composer by default. Why that specifc figure of 50%? It's an irrelevant criticism to the point I was making, which is that we need a simpler system to deal with copyright clearance. Of course, you could complicate the system to account for these problems. For example, you could insist that musicians give accurate details of the length of each sample used or that musicians not interested in having their music sampled in certain conditions make that aware to our imaginary agency. This is just an idea of how such a system could work, not a definitive solution.

Re: As I see it, you are trying to defend the indefensible. Sampling in this context is 'theft' of IP and copyright and exploitation of brand image, etc.. Be prepared to pay for the privilege of exploiting someone else's creativity and talent and 'brand' in your music if you want to but don't protest with some faux concept of a repression of creativity. It's a lame argument that has no legs morally or legally.

I'm not trying to defend anything. My actions are entirely consistent with my morals on this issue and I have nothing to personally gain from taking this view - I record all of my own samples because I feel that using other people's work would cheapen mine, but that's just my personal opinion. However, I believe that a simpler system for clearing copyright needs to be set up to protect sample-based creativity (no matter how crap you or I think it is). There is a value in music and art which recycles pre-existing material. There are statements which can only be made this way. Likewise, there are musicians who were only fortunate enough to have a deck or computer at their disposal, that didn't receive formal music training from a really young age - they deserve to be able to make and sell music too, even if it is in ways that many of us don't enjoy. This does not mean sampling should necessarily be free! In our imaginary system, perhaps royalties are only due or are charged at a higher rate if the sample is over a certain length? Too little freedom and copyright law has the potential to damage creativity, too much freedom and people will take advantage.

I have already given plenty of examples of cases where laws have been relaxed to ensure creativity is not damaged in a particular way. It is legal for musicians to rip off a chord sequence, it is legal for the BBC to use copyright music in anyway it sees fit, even in ways which violate the composer's ethics, it is legal for Gary Gygax to turn a Balrog into a Type IV demon called Balor that bears a striking resemblance to a Balrog, etc... There are good reasons for these exceptions, just as there are good reasons to relax the laws on sampling. I should reitterate that I am not even necessarily arguing that sampling should be free - if it was made easier to sample and pay some money where it is due, then it would most likely result in an increase in sampling of copyrighted works, which in turn will result in more musicians being paid for samples, and therefore more musicians getting the money they deserve.

Yes, such a system has implications for the moral rights of composers, in which case I refer you to my previous message and ask again, why are you putting it out there in the first place? It's common practise in academic papers to cite a person's comments out of context in order to misrepresent that person's views - should fair use laws be tightened up in this instance?


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hollowsun



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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: MD_BANNED]
      #500341 - 12/08/07 02:48 AM
Fine....

Steal, nick, lift, 'borrow' whatever you want in the pursuit of your art but expect to hear from a lawyer somewhere along the line.

As for uncopyrightable chord progressions, etc., there's always this:





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MD_BANNED



Joined: 08/08/07
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #500342 - 12/08/07 03:03 AM
I made it quite clear that I'm not interested in or condoning illegal sample use - instead, I want the laws relaxed. So hopefully won't be seeing any lawyers, unless of course someone samples me! (joke)

Otherwise, that was excellent!

Reminds me of that other chord sequence, the one from Eno's Big Ship/James' Tomorrow/The Cure - Letter to Elise and a billion other tracks. It was an ongoing joke in my old band, to spot songs with that chord sequence. Think the sequence is kind of similar, but it's only four chords long instead of eight.


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Mark Knutson
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: Les]
      #500344 - 12/08/07 03:14 AM
Quote Les:

I havent viewed the docu, but one thing about the "sampling is theft" argument has always confused or bewildered me.

As some folk have said, we (the generic "we") can often find ourselves unwittingly plagiarising things like chord sequences, and yet, taking a small snapshot from an existing song or some other audio source is considered a bit dubious - even IF clearance is granted and fee is paid.

But what about synth patches? Lets say there's a section in a track that features one sound in isolation played for a short period of time. The samplist thinks "mmm, like that, Im 'avin it", and duly samples it - but if that sound is a factory preset in isolation (ok im nit-picking a bit here I know , but it's just an illustration), it would still, I prsume, require clearance. However, if we were to use the same patch/preset, with, say, the same processing - in our own music - in other words use the original sound - that is ok.

So it seems to be partly an issue of context perhaps? I may (yet again) be talking rubbish, but it's a thought that's hovered around in my head for many years.

Slightly tangential but - how many of us have created some music, and then left it in mothballs (all of us lets face it) - only for something eerily similar to crop up as a release sometime later. Youre then in the position that, if you still like the idea you had, and want to resurrect it in the future - will you be accused of ripping someone else off?

Just some more grist - I know not the answers.

Good thread tho.




Good points for pondering!

When I was in law school, the professor would give us a rule distinguishing between two things, and then would come up with a hypothetical carefully placed in the middle of the grey area between the two things, and we would debate it furiously like dogs fighting over piece of steak, never realizing (until years later) that there was in fact no clear answer, and we were simply to be able to understand and apply components of the rules.

Well, it would be false imprisonment to lock someone in a closet. Ditto with a stadium, what about a country or hemisphere? What if you locked a closet and said they could go anywhere but there--would that be false imprisonment? Well, why not? You are limiting their freedom of movement... So, where do you draw the line is theoretically difficult but usually intuitively obvious for most cases.

Yes, there is a continuum between creative stealing and not stealing.

So, it is clear that playing a whole nother song and calling it your own is wrong, what if you played only 5 seconds? How about 1/10,000 of a second? Clearly at some point, it becomes ridiculous to protect too small a part of a song. But if its too small to protect, its also to small to be worth stealing, in my mind.

In songwriting, the land of chord progressions, courts have always had to struggle with this, and they make decisions. For instance, Harrison's My Sweet Lord, and She's So Fine--similar but not exact--I thought it was an extremely close case.

So, in my mind, when the sample is recognizable, one is benefiting from the public memory of the earlier song (or the talent of the musician)--this is what I am thinking of--like when samples get recorded into an mpc and played back. When it is sort of used as a wave that gets distorted beyond all recognition, I personally don't see a problem with it, but on the other hand, if its unrecognizable, why use something copyrighted if you're going to distort beyond recognition? Maybe to get some of its mojo?

The reason I don't think paying performance rights on samples from copyrighted works is burdensome is that one can easily make one's own notes. Why sample the power chord from a who song when you can plug an sg into a marshall and make your own? Is it because you could not get it to sound exactly like the original? That's why its protected.

I think if you had a drummer do his own 'amen' break, it would be ok--we don't protect a sequence of drum hits, but the whole reason folks use the original is because it is recognizable, or they can't play drums very well, or don't want to hire a drummer.

I am not against sampling or expressing an opinion on its value as an art form, I am simply saying that it falls within the realm of expression that needs to be paid when you use it in your own work.

Edited by Mark Knutson (12/08/07 03:31 AM)


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leslawrenson



Joined: 14/03/06
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Re: Sampling - theft or creative re-use? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #500346 - 12/08/07 03:35 AM
Hollowsun: Ha!Ha!


That really just proves what we all know, that there is nothing new under the sun.

The video clip examples you provide further above are exactly the sort of clip that we can all agree are simply a rip off of the original tracks. They fall very clearly on this side of the "copyright vs right to sample" line. I have to express my own particular distaste for that type of music (and, therefore, I accept that I am biased and perhaps blind to its merits, if it has any), but it is clear that these songs have simply taken the "meat" or core of another track, traded off its cultural and emotional context, and cheapened it. The songs are (as I have already argued above) nothing more than poor remixes of the original song.

But what about the use of samples that fall on the other side of the line? What about the use of samples purely as textures within the body of an original work of art?

I think copyright laws need to change to keep up with the times. I think there should be a test based on the concept of recognition. If the new track can be recognised, to a specied degree (or, indeed, to any degree) as the original track, then the samples used require pre-clearance/permission prior to use, and in the absence of such cannot be used. I cannot see why an artist or his record company should want to (or be able to) prevent the sale and distribution of original tracks where there is nothing tangibly recognisable of the original track.

And no one has, as yet, given a reply as to why a hip hop artist should be considered a thief and a charleton for using a copy of someone elses music in his own music, and Andy Warhol should be considered an artist for blatantly glueing photocopies of a famous brand soup tin to a piece of card and sticking it in a frame? Or by simply replicating the iconic image of an actress. It does demonstrate, however, that English law is prepared to make distinctions between art and "the theft of ideas" when it wants to.


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