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Sampling and the law

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Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:52 am

This 15 minute talk I think is excellent and explains how the law is confused. Although it refers to U.S. law, U.K. law usually follows that precedent. For artistic reasons I think sampling should be legal under 'fair use' legislation. Our current 'me' and 'that's mine, I own it' culture is explained by social psychologists Jean Twenge in The Narcissism Epidemic, and Jonathon Haidt in The Righteous Mind. And it is ruining the creative arts in my opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=931&v=4cVpNmgDmWs
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:33 pm

* bookmarked for later * :thumbup:
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:46 am

The link I included seems to link to the end of the video, here is the correct link:

https://youtu.be/4cVpNmgDmWs
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby ken long » Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:55 pm

Still Vibrations wrote: For artistic reasons I think sampling should be legal under 'fair use' legislation.

I'll remember that if you ever have a hit. I'll sample it and put it out myself under a different name.

If you want to use a sample, pay for it. It really isn't that much.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Brian M Rose » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:03 pm

There is some excellent guidance here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use
'Fair Use' is generally restricted to areas such as academia, reviews etc, and it is at least a good idea to quote the source.
MY understanding is that it does NOT using samples in your own music without permission.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Luke W » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:22 pm

Brian M Rose wrote:'Fair Use' is generally restricted to areas such as academia, reviews etc, and it is at least a good idea to quote the source.
MY understanding is that it does NOT using samples in your own music without permission.

:thumbup: Definitely doesn't sound like a very fair way to use someone else's work to me!
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby blinddrew » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:33 pm

Not quite that straightforward, you really do have to work through the four factors and even then courts have determined cases outside of those guidelines.
Fair dealing in the UK is generally more restrictive.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:55 pm

I bookmarked this thread when it first appeared way back in 2009, particularly because it contains a huge amount of sampling copyright sense from the late lamented hollowsun.

Read on from here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 82#p131009


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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:33 pm

ken long wrote:
Still Vibrations wrote: For artistic reasons I think sampling should be legal under 'fair use' legislation.

I'll remember that if you ever have a hit. I'll sample it and put it out myself under a different name.

If you want to use a sample, pay for it. It really isn't that much.

I was referring to things mentioned in the video I linked, without watching that video my comment would be misunderstood. Collage, quoting, and referencing, are contemporary techniques in most art forms. To integrate a reference, or a heavily processed sample, into a new creative work only to be pursued by attorneys I believe is wrong. The attorneys are not interested in the creative arts, they are interested in winning, money and creative interpretations of the law to get these things. Artistic techniques should not be decided by avaricious lawyers and uninformed juries. If someone takes a sound, or quotes a line from another work and changes it so that it is new, I believe that should be legal. No one is suggesting you take whole chunks of someone else's work and claim it as your own. Most classical composers and poets want their quotations recognised, and most listeners/readers probably would recognise the sources. And notice I said "fair use". Should Figaro have sued Picasso?

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-bottle-of-vieux-marc-glass-guitar-and-newspaper-t00414

I won't go into the Marvin Gaye case or the Clyde Stubblefield situation because they are now well known but they are examples of the problem.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby ken long » Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:07 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:The attorneys are not interested in the creative arts, they are interested in winning, money and creative interpretations of the law to get these things.

No, no, no. They are hired to protect the intellectual property of their clients. If you sample something, you will need to license it. Then the lawyers get no money! That's the solution right there!

Artistic techniques should not be decided by avaricious lawyers and uninformed juries. If someone takes a sound, or quotes a line from another work and changes it so that it is new, I believe that should be legal. No one is suggesting you take whole chunks of someone else's work and claim it as your own.

So who decides when a sample has been altered enough? And how big is a chunk, SV? Do you decide the duration of the sample or does the artist?

Most classical composers and poets want their quotations recognised, and most listeners/readers probably would recognise the sources. And notice I said "fair use". Should Figaro have sued Picasso?

How do you know if Picasso did or did not got permission from Le Figaro to use the clipping?

I won't go into the Marvin Gaye case or the Clyde Stubblefield situation because they are now well known but they are examples of the problem.

I agree with you about the MG case as defined by the law.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby blinddrew » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:02 pm

ken long wrote:So who decides when a sample has been altered enough?
A court. That's how the process works.

ken long wrote:I agree with you about the MG case as defined by the law.
Are you saying you think that the jury returned the right outcome in that case?
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:31 pm

blinddrew wrote:
ken long wrote:So who decides when a sample has been altered enough?
A court. That's how the process works.

Exactly. It is not difficult to tell the difference between the creative use of something that is transformed and plagiarism. The fairground organs in Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! no way constitute plagiarism. Or this poem by Adrian Henri:

SUMMER POEM
(for the Shangri-Las)

Remember
(walkin' in the sand)
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:02 am

I've gone thru the entire video, and it doesn't seem to me that the laywer-cum-EDM artist makes a strong case at all. If anything, he's showing how the system is working as intended (with its pros and cons, of course) - which to say, biased towards human judgment and interpretation as opposite to rigid, mechanical rules. If a jury ain't good enough for a song, then it's not good enough for a murder case (which may even be, but it's a different discussion).

Sampling as used in the songs he showed in the video is akin of reusing letters in the alphabet. I'm not violating anyone's copyright because I'm using the same letters and words others do. All music is made by notes and timbres. The key is the recognizability, and - for non blatant cases - the current US copyright law defines it as "how it's understood by a random sample of ordinary people who are given pointers to what to look at and enough time to reach a decision", that is a jury.

By definition this concept will - and does - cause the occasional inconsistency and missjugement. It's inherent in a jury, and anybody who's ever watched "12 angry men" understands how, occasionally, things can go terribly wrong with them. The alternative is, however, a panel of experts or authorities - and it'd very hard in certain cases to find really unbiased ones..

Also the parallel he draws between music and visual art is somewhat misguided: due to the way vision works (as opposite to hearing) the space of possible transformations for audio is, even if large, much smaller than for pictures. Due to this, a collage may preserve much more of the identity of the individual elements and still be transformative (a practical expample is at stuff like this: Image).

It's probably possible but much harder to use audio elements which are strongly recognizable (beyond note and timbre, that is) and create something entirely new - or better said, something that any random bunch of people will most likely recognize as entirely new . When Eminem sings Toy Soldiers, anyone who's ever heard the original will recognize it in an instant. While there's gazillion songs based on similar progressions and nobody's suing about that.

Nobody gives a damn about sampling, when nobody recognizes what you sample. But for the Marvin Gaye people to have actually started the lawsuit, they must have heard something, no? (and while I'm not familiar with either songs, by listening 15 seconds the jumping rhythm and overall feel does indeed bear a certain similarity to me.. it's a judgement call of course, but a jury is always a judgement call).
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby blinddrew » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:32 am

For the record (pun intended), my beef with the Marvin Gaye case is that they've made a copyright decision on non-copyrightable aspects.
A copyright exists on the recording and the composition. In this case the court made a decision based on the feel of the song.
That's extending it beyond previously established bounds and right into the territory of genre, hence i think it was a terrible decision.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:06 am

blinddrew wrote:For the record (pun intended), my beef with the Marvin Gaye case is that they've made a copyright decision on non-copyrightable aspects.
A copyright exists on the recording and the composition. In this case the court made a decision based on the feel of the song.
That's extending it beyond previously established bounds and right into the territory of genre, hence i think it was a terrible decision.

Good point. Courts interpret the law, not make the law. Does this mean every jazz composition with a walking bass belongs to Charlie Parker? Most people I meet, even in the arts, know nothing about copyright, letting juries decide is madness.

CS70 wrote:
Also the parallel he draws between music and visual art is somewhat misguided: due to the way vision works (as opposite to hearing) the space of possible transformations for audio is, even if large, much smaller than for pictures. Due to this, a collage may preserve much more of the identity of the individual elements and still be transformative (a practical expample is at stuff like this:

That is just wrong. Our visual sense is far more developed in most people than our aural sense. If someone took a logo from an advert, or a famous celebrity's eyes, they would probably be recognised. Take a cymbal sound from a record, or a quote from a poet, and they probably would not. I think the difference between visual and musical collage is that the music version becomes a mess more easily.

When Enoch Powell said "rivers of blood" most people in Britain did not know it was a quote from Virgil. How many know that "Party like it’s 1989", the title of a Taylor Swift record, was a headline from the New York Post three years earlier which she may, or may not, have taken. And it doesn't matter anyway.

There is a confusion between copyright, tort and trademarks in most people's minds.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:39 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:
CS70 wrote:
Also the parallel he draws between music and visual art is somewhat misguided: due to the way vision works (as opposite to hearing) the space of possible transformations for audio is, even if large, much smaller than for pictures. Due to this, a collage may preserve much more of the identity of the individual elements and still be transformative (a practical expample is at stuff like this:

That is just wrong. Our visual sense is far more developed in most people than our aural sense. If someone took a logo from an advert, or a famous celebrity's eyes, they would probably be recognised. Take a cymbal sound from a record, or a quote from a poet, and they probably would not. I think the difference between visual and musical collage is that the music version becomes a mess more easily.

I think you've misunderstood - surely my fault. That our visual sense is far more developed in most people than our aural sense is exactly my point. It's a bigger space so you can use tricks (like the "moving away" one in the picture I attached) that you cannot use with sound. It's possible to make a collage of existing pictures, which are recognizable when you zoom in, but that, when zooming out, produces a completely different (transformative) effects. That's much trickier to do with audio - and that's why all the examples in the video are about chopping audio to the point that its original identity is no longer recognizable.

In short: you say it yourself, sound and vision an't the same thing - it only follows that criteria for "transformativeness" aren't either, so the parallel in the video is really not that relevant.

"Sampling" in sound, in itself, is no problem when nobody can recognize that it's a sample - and no copyright suit would be based on that.

When Enoch Powell said "rivers of blood" most people in Britain did not know it was a quote from Virgil. How many know that "Party like it’s 1989", the title of a Taylor Swift record, was a headline from the New York Post three years earlier which she may, or may not, have taken. And it doesn't matter anyway.

Sure it doesn't - exactly because that's the equivalent of the sampling in the video: a few words strung together don't really have an identity and can be reinvented all the time (and are). If I write a song and call it "Hello" it can hardly be subject to an infringment suit based on the title alone.

As you point out, that's why there's also the concept of trademark.

And in both cases, it all boils down to "how recongizable it is" - as interpreted by a random group of people, called a jury. Far from perfect, but what alternatives are there (short of allowing anyone to take other people's work and make money out of it )?
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:50 pm

I've never understood why anyone would want to take a recorded piece of someone else's music as a basis for their own. Why is it even worth the risk?

Just record something of your own and all these silly problems go away... :headbang:
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:56 pm

The Elf wrote:I've never understood why anyone would want to take a recorded piece of someone else's music as a basis for their own. Why is it even worth the risk?

Just record something of your own and all these silly problems go away... :headbang:

I have always wondered the same thing!
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:35 pm

The Elf wrote:I've never understood why anyone would want to take a recorded piece of someone else's music as a basis for their own. Why is it even worth the risk?

Just record something of your own and all these silly problems go away... :headbang:

I could write reams on this. Because it is part of our culture and the creative arts. There are numerous references to other works in all creative fields. Even young film makers like Lena Dunham use references to other films.
Jazz arrangers will put famous improvised solos into the arrangements. Illinois Jacquet recorded a famous improvised solo on a recording of Going Home. A Duke Ellington recording of Flying Home included a transcription of this solo arranged for the orchestra. Classical composers write variations on other compsoser’s themes. Bartok in his Concerto for Orchestra qoutes Dmitri Shostakovich (or possibly Lehár, depending on who you read). There is a sample from a sci-fi film, an announcement that says “Mars need Women!”, which was used by techno and stratch DJs.

However because of attorney’s cupidity there is a cut off point of what you can sample/qoute/refer to, which means that contemporary works and references cannot be used without legal rangling and large amounts of money.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:58 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:
The Elf wrote:I've never understood why anyone would want to take a recorded piece of someone else's music as a basis for their own. Why is it even worth the risk?

Just record something of your own and all these silly problems go away... :headbang:

I have always wondered the same thing!

You mean like "Stairway To Heaven" :headbang:

I tried to use a paraphrase to the iconic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" riff in a tune (a radically different Bee Gees cover, all licensed and above board) and the rest of the band said no. Was I right, I played the same notes in a different order, the intention being an homage?
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