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Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

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Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Herbert the turbot » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:16 pm

My colleague and I have finished an album which we're hoping to put out via Spotify, iTunes et al, but before we do we could do with knowing where we stand regarding some samples we've used.

All are spoken word samples which we have taken from various archive radio and TV broadcasts. A couple are anonymous, as in we don't know the identity of the person speaking - these are respectively a "1940s" BBC announcer talking about london buses and an unknown female chef giving a recipe for smoked haddock soup.

However a couple feature two very well known current TV presenters, whose voices would be instantly recognisable to most people.

So the question is, do we need to gain permission from said people before putting our music out commercially? Whilst obviously we know that sampling recorded music needs permission, we haven't been able to find out if the same applies to spoken word samples.

Any help much appreciated!
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:20 pm

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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby paulprogram » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:30 pm

Could I have a copy of the haddock soup recipe please?
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Herbert the turbot » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:47 pm

Richie Royale wrote:Yes you will need clearance.

<a href="/sos/mar08/articles/sampleclearance_0308.htm" target="_blank">http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar08/articles/sampleclearance_0308.htm</a>

Thanks for the response, but unless I'm missing something, that article refers to commercial recordings - ie songs that have been released on a record label. The samples I'm referring to are radio announcements or things Tv presenters have said, which have never been released commercially.

So if for example we sample a BBC weatherman saying "dry with sunny periods tomorrow" or Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear saying "Cor - look at the bodywork on that!", do we need to contact their agents? (they're not the actual samples btw!)
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:52 pm

Someone will still own the copyright if it has been recorded, so you will still need to seek approval of its use.

There are a variety of companies that offer clearance services this is one:

http://www.sampleclearance.com/
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:22 pm

paulprogram wrote:Could I have a copy of the haddock soup recipe please?


This is the sort of unhelpful replies you can expect to find here, although the others are quite right, in that you do need clearance.

However, having gone through clearance with EMI as a test, it just is not worth it. They wanted 50% writers credits and 100% mechanicals, just for 2% of warbling from a 70's soul singer who did not see a penny of it. We agreed to that because we just wanted the record out there to increase the gigs for that artist.

If you are a label in the underground I would just go ahead and release it, and I can guarantee you won't be in court because they only look for hits and the chance of money. Admittedly, this could happen, so deal with it by disolving the label if need be, but that is extreme and unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, your name is out there and you will be on your way.

Many famous artists use samples and people like Will i am really need to be careful, and this is probaly what is scaring you. We got our own back by not registering the track with PPL or PRS. They will whistle for their royalties and see nothing and neither will we, but the track is a dancefloor legend now for that artist and has often been played on late night Radio 1. It was worth it for the bookings.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby stollypop » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:06 am

atechnogirl wrote:
paulprogram wrote:Could I have a copy of the haddock soup recipe please?

This is the sort of unhelpful replies you can expect to find here,

Oh come on, where's your sense of humour? I thought it was funny.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby johnny h » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:56 am

atechnogirl wrote:
If you are a label in the underground I would just go ahead and release it, and I can guarantee you won't be in court because they only look for hits and the chance of money. Admittedly, this could happen, so deal with it by disolving the label if need be, but that is extreme and unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, your name is out there and you will be on your way.
Agree with this totally, don't fear these big companies. Yes they can shut down a small label if they want to, but it will probably cost them more in lawyer fees than any sort of compensation they will win.


Many famous artists use samples and people like Will i am really need to be careful, and this is probaly what is scaring you. We got our own back by not registering the track with PPL or PRS. They will whistle for their royalties and see nothing and neither will we, but the track is a dancefloor legend now for that artist and has often been played on late night Radio 1. It was worth it for the bookings.

Asking for clearance is asking for trouble. You are admitting to using it and bringing it to their attention and they will ask for obscene amounts of compensation. Do it, deny it and make sure the record label has no assets to lose if things get nasty. Most people get away with it.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Billum » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:28 pm

Another possible approach in this sort of case is to go down the sample-a-like route and hire a voice artist to emulate the original recordings, like Lemon Jelly using Enn Reitel and John Standing. You just have a clear fee to pay and the owenership is all yours!

Of course, it could be a bit late in the day if your production is all done and dusted...
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby GlynB » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:23 am

atechnogirl wrote:If you are a label in the underground I would just go ahead and release it, and I can guarantee you won't be in court because they only look for hits and the chance of money. Admittedly, this could happen, so deal with it by disolving the label if need be, but that is extreme and unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, your name is out there and you will be on your way.


Exactly. Unless you expect major commercial success 'publish and be damned' just stick it out there.

if the big boys comes after you with threats (unlikely unless you have a hit) the worse that can most likely happen is you end up signing over the rigths to them.

And even if they get wind of what you've done and come after you without having had a hit (unlikely where's the profit?), think of the publicity you'd gain anyway and press release opportunities arising from it, so you win that way too!
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:29 pm

whilst this is what many do.... I'm not convinced anyone should be putting into print/text this sort of thing as "advice". It's surely a symptom of everything wrong in attitudes towards copyright.....
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:31 pm

I totally agree - the original poster asked "Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?" and the official answer to that is 'Yes you do'.

Whether or not you may be involved in legal implications if you ignore this advice is another matter


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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Zukan » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:00 pm

GlynB wrote:
atechnogirl wrote:If you are a label in the underground I would just go ahead and release it, and I can guarantee you won't be in court because they only look for hits and the chance of money. Admittedly, this could happen, so deal with it by disolving the label if need be, but that is extreme and unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, your name is out there and you will be on your way.


Exactly. Unless you expect major commercial success 'publish and be damned' just stick it out there.

if the big boys comes after you with threats (unlikely unless you have a hit) the worse that can most likely happen is you end up signing over the rigths to them.

And even if they get wind of what you've done and come after you without having had a hit (unlikely where's the profit?), think of the publicity you'd gain anyway and press release opportunities arising from it, so you win that way too!

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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:48 pm

narcoman wrote: It's surely a symptom of everything wrong in attitudes towards copyright.....

Quite so.

Recordings obtained from BBC broadcasts, or from any other broadcasters, is inherently copyrighted and permission should be obtained from the rights holders if you want to use exerpts in your own matrial.

Sound On Sound supports the rights of copyright holders and absolutely does not condone any 'advice' in this thread or elsewhere suggesting that it is acceptable to abuse copyright in any way.

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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:10 pm

I agree with you Hugh, but the reality is that many up and coming producers simply get robbed when it comes to royalties if they toe the line and clear. Can you blame them for not doing so, having seen my example? Certainly in the underground scene it goes on all the time. Copyright is there to protect US (the artists and producers), but does it really, or does it protect the record company? In my case the singer who we used was never mentioned in the publishing but she is still alive and we promoted her in a big way. The person who was the writer had been dead for ages and I wonder if his estate saw a penny. Somehow, I doubt it, and that is why I prefer not to clear anymore.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:14 pm

If you think the way copyright holders are rewarded is wrong, then campaign to change that. If you condone ignoring copyright altogether, no one gets rewarded and, ultimately, we all lose.

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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:18 pm

I changed my post since you replied Hugh, but I think for the scene I work in that being a little hermit under a stone probably works better. The reason for this is that we can't afford lawyers and prefer just to play stuff on the dancefloor for fun. I wish it could be fairer.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:45 pm

atechnogirl wrote:

However, having gone through clearance with EMI as a test, it just is not worth it.

well - it's the law........ so worth it or not !!.. I spent 11 years as an artist on EMI and left them unrecouped (they gave me close to a million quid)....... more often than not they were a very very fair lot. They look after their artists very nicely ------ although they can be real jerks!!! hahaha
atechnogirl wrote:
They wanted 50% writers credits and 100% mechanicals, just for 2% of warbling from a 70's soul singer who did not see a penny of it. We agreed to that because we just wanted the record out there to increase the gigs for that artist.

The art of negotiation is a valuable one. That's what connections are all about!! Should have asked me . How do you know the 70s singer didn't see a penny? surely

a) the label is allowed to make back it's investment - which may have been into 7 figures.
b) if the artist had recouped they would have seen their amount via the MCPS and the label accountability. Of course - there is a different argument about the fair structure of recoup but that is an entirely different argument. You cannot put all arguments into one case!!

atechnogirl wrote:
If you are a label in the underground I would just go ahead and release it, and I can guarantee you won't be in court because they only look for hits and the chance of money. Admittedly, this could happen, so deal with it by disolving the label if need be, but that is extreme and unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, your name is out there and you will be on your way.

1) that attitude is the ENEMY of ALL music. Even the underground. However, I understand why you think it....
2) I doubt you'd get a personal indemnity against such a thing. You would STILL be liable even if you wound up the company. You'd also be struck off the companies house register and unable to get more than a basic tax status. Careful when winding up a company!!

atechnogirl wrote:
Many famous artists use samples and people like Will i am really need to be careful, and this is probaly what is scaring you. We got our own back by not registering the track with PPL or PRS. They will whistle for their royalties and see nothing and neither will we, but the track is a dancefloor legend now for that artist and has often been played on late night Radio 1. It was worth it for the bookings.

Not registered with PPL and PRS starves you of other income! Its a double edged sword.

I get why you have these opinions but try to imagine being on the other side of it!! You cannot choose your laws and rules to obey if you want any chance of fairness in business!!
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Nolum » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:59 pm

I don't understand your arguement atechnogirl... if all you are interested in doing is "play stuff on the dancefloor for fun" then why do you have such a problem giving the copyright owners 50% writers credits and 100% mechanicals?

If you're indeed in it for credit or profit, then why not use royalty free samples or skip sampling altogether?

If your track relies so heavily on a sample that you can't replace it, then shouldn't the copyright holder have a share in it? If that's the case, if it weren't for them, you wouldn't have a track.

Regarding the artist holding the copyright vs the record company holding the copyright, that's a totally different matter. However, in the cases where the record company does own the copyright (especially before the digital era when self-publishing was extremely difficult), I'd bet my shirt it's because they are the ones that fronted all the MONEY in the first place, not only to make the recording, but also for promotion, distribution, etc. In other words, without the record company, you probably would never even have heard of that artist.

I'm not saying that the record companies are always right, but the record companies took the financial risk and this is their reward. And that does benefit the artist because it gives the record companies a) incentive to financially back an artist and do a good job promoting them, and b) further capital for funding future artists.

As it stands, the law is what it is. And as Hugh said, if you want to change the law, do it by petition, not by breaking it.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:12 pm

Having got very frustrated trying to quote Narco (who I now imagine to be either Rodger Daltry or Paul McCartney) I can confirm that the lack of the name of that female '70's singer on the contract is very obvious by her absence.

My contribution here, was not to be confrontational but to provide an example of reality to someone who wondered if they could use this or that on their itune release.

I would also like to add that being staunch is very admirable, but I have had to cope with first day releases totally ripped and distributed on every rapidshare site on the net before they make any money on legitimate sites. It is just the way it is, and the producers must make their money by live gigs. Welcome to 2012, and yes, I run a record company too.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Nolum » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:30 pm

I'm not trying to be confrontational either-- I genuinely want to hear your justification for your staunch stance, which many have rebuffed at this point.

Are you saying that others steal from you, so it's ok for you to steal also?
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby Scramble » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:32 pm

atechnogirl has already played a big part in getting two recent threads shut down (one was deleted entirely). Is this going to be the third? Place your bets now!
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:39 pm

atechnogirl wrote:
I would also like to add that being staunch is very admirable, but I have had to cope with first day releases totally ripped and distributed on every rapidshare site on the net before they make any money on legitimate sites. It is just the way it is, and the producers must make their money by live gigs. Welcome to 2012, and yes, I run a record company too.


Well that's a piracy issue, not a label issue. But by not playing 100% by the former rules it's harder to complain about the pirate element!!


Hhah on being Daltry or Macca. I think they have made EMI and themselves rather more than I.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:40 pm

Oh my word Scramble! I do have something to add on the forum. I have a record company, I understand how to recoup royalties and I work with several musicians who earn their living through music. Your pop up comment is probably why some threads have been shut. I do react to trolling.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby johnny h » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:43 pm

atechnogirl wrote:Having got very frustrated trying to quote Narco (who I now imagine to be either Rodger Daltry or Paul McCartney) I can confirm that the lack of the name of that female '70's singer on the contract is very obvious by her absence.

My contribution here, was not to be confrontational but to provide an example of reality to someone who wondered if they could use this or that on their itune release.

I would also like to add that being staunch is very admirable, but I have had to cope with first day releases totally ripped and distributed on every rapidshare site on the net before they make any money on legitimate sites. It is just the way it is, and the producers must make their money by live gigs. Welcome to 2012, and yes, I run a record company too.

I think you are getting very close to the truth here, possibly a bit too much for some people.

My record company ignore samples unless they are obvious, and they are actually quite a big company with a lot to lose. Why? I don't know, they think its worth the risk and I'm not going to argue with them.

I think the essential point is that music doesn't need any more wallflowers, so if you absolutely need to do something then do it. Punk bands used to steal their guitars remember. That does make you a criminal its true but real artists aren't bound by the same rules as mere mortals.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:47 pm

narcoman wrote: Hhah on being Daltry or Macca. I think they have made EMI and themselves rather more than I.

Are you Danny from the Script then? Or maybe that dancer in Steps?
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:57 pm

atechnogirl wrote:
Are you Danny from the Script then? Or maybe that dancer in Steps?


I'm someone who plays fair and works on a basis of morality and integrity ( and despite common perception you'll find that the majority of the biz is like that..... It's the few twats that make life crappy in music). I deal with majors, indies, DIYers, corporate and ultra artists. There are idiots in all areas...... You can't tar all label people as dicks any more than you can say all artists are to be trusted. I've cleared more. Samples and licences than most will deal with in a lifetime..... And yet I've also managed to get the "right" deals by not throwing ones proverbial toys out of e pram when one doesn't get ones own way !! ?.. You give a little, you gets a lot....
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby atechnogirl » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:15 pm

narcoman wrote:
atechnogirl wrote:
Are you Danny from the Script then? Or maybe that dancer in Steps?

I'm someone who plays fair and works on a basis of morality and integrity ( and despite common perception you'll find that the majority of the biz is like that.....
By your posts, I can see that, and yes, the only people I know who have done well have been very nice people who everyone likes. I have also seen others drink too much or take too many drugs to ever be booked again.
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Re: Do I need sample clearance for spoken word samples?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:25 pm

atechnogirl wrote:
narcoman wrote:
atechnogirl wrote:
Are you Danny from the Script then? Or maybe that dancer in Steps?

I'm someone who plays fair and works on a basis of morality and integrity ( and despite common perception you'll find that the majority of the biz is like that.....
By your posts, I can see that, and yes, the only people I know who have done well have been very nice people who everyone likes. I have also seen others drink too much or take too many drugs to ever be booked again.

Exactly. It's all about relationships.
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