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Sampling and the law

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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby The Elf » Wed May 01, 2019 12:13 am

Plagiarism is a different subject and I don't condone it. I'm aware that LZ were accused of it. Maybe they did - who cares? This has nothing to do with sampling IMO.

References are one thing. Taking someone else's recorded work wholesale is another. Instead of doing it, then try to get clearance for it - simply don't do it in the first place! Record your own music (with or without 'references') and the problem goes away.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed May 01, 2019 4:19 am

The Elf wrote:Plagiarism is a different subject and I don't condone it. I'm aware that LZ were accused of it. Maybe they did - who cares? This has nothing to do with sampling IMO.

I was going to say the same thing (Elf and I are proceeding through the manuscript at a comparable velocity it would seem). Sampling is recording, which is a more tangible derivation than plagiarism.

Plagiarism has anchors in note melodies, harmonies and progressions thereof. Sampling doesn't care, it just scoops up greater or lesser chunks of audio, but always wholesale - at least prior to any processing.

Different courses, different courses. I've never done a derivative work in my life as far as I know but I'm sure I must have accidentally reproduced a chord sequence or melody that someone happened across in the last 50 years.

On the other hand I can categorically state that I have never sampled any musical output from anyone, ever.

There is a big difference, even if only as a starting point, should a hypothetical court action ensue.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Wed May 01, 2019 9:14 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:Plagiarism has anchors in note melodies, harmonies and progressions thereof. Sampling doesn't care, it just scoops up greater or lesser chunks of audio, but always wholesale - at least prior to any processing.
. . . .
There is a big difference, even if only as a starting point, should a hypothetical court action ensue.

They are all included under copyright legislation so are largely interchangeable. Just to be accurate, harmonies and chord progressions do not contain copyright elements, although after the Marvin Gaye case anything could be possible.

Recently I wrote text for a work for a concert series based on cities, I was asked to write about Birmingham. The text was a collage, and many sources were out of copyright, but the modern texts were not. The reason I quoted interviews and web forums was for authenticity. I am perfectly capable of writing my own fake interviews and adverts but it would not be the same. Incidentally, should I have decided to get copyright clearance - which I wouldn't - for an interview with a grime DJ mixed in with an advertisement for a discount for manicures who would I ask anyway - although that is not the point of my comment? And I wanted the audience to know that these were genuine interviews, adverts, publicity posters etc. No one lost money or business by my quoting, no one was defamed or put in a bad light, nothing was implied about the people and advertisements I quoted.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby degraye » Wed May 01, 2019 1:34 pm

It´s all about good old fashioned, plain honesty imho. It has nothing to do with the "that's mine, I own it culture" or any other culture.

Laws (and hence attorneys and jurys) are only needed when people steal or does something that hurts other people in one way or another.

If people were honest to begin with, the problem would never arise and laws (with their inherent imperfection and bluntness) wouldn´t be needed and attorneys would be out of work.

Sampling is stealing if you* don´t ask the creator/owner for permission first, no matter how you twist it (and regardless of how unrecognizable from the original, the end product might be).

That includes borrowing something for commercial or non-commercial work - ask for permission beforehand and if denied, don´t use it - be creative and do something else entirely made by you, i.e. be a true artist.

It really is that simple.

---
*to clarify, I use "you" as a general term, I don´t specifically mean you Still Vibrations.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby blinddrew » Wed May 01, 2019 4:55 pm

degraye wrote:Sampling is stealing
I'm sorry but this just isn't correct. They are different actions with different implications and hence have different laws. The societal implications are also vastly different because the fundamental principle of copyright is that there is a trade-off with an initial period of government-granted monopoly that is offset in the longer term by the growth of the public domain. Unfortunately copyright law has ratcheted one way over the last few decades to the point that is completely out of step with how people use digital media every day.
That balance should be addressed, and part of that conversation should look at the creative use of sampling as an integral part of our current culture.
But that conversation needs to be honest and accurate, conflating theft with copyright infringement doesn't help that, no matter how morally equivalent you may consider them both to be.


And just to pick up on an earlier point in the thread, trademark is a very different kettle of fish with a very different purpose and execution. Trademarks need to be protected to remain valid (this doesn't mean suing at the drop of a hat), copyrights don't.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu May 02, 2019 9:02 am

degraye wrote:It´s all about good old fashioned, plain honesty imho. It has nothing to do with the "that's mine, I own it culture" or any other culture.

Did you read the previous posts about culture, quotation, references, homage, authenticity, variations etc.? Should a1000 years of great European culture be stopped because of recent copyright legislation? Some researchers believe that Beowulf - the earliest significant extant text in English - was a combination of about three already existing Scandinavian sagas. Scholars have shown the sources of many of Shakespeare's plays: Is one of the greatest playwrights ever to be stopped because of copyright laws thought up by politicians? When I use quotations from other works it is not because I'm stealing or incapable of writing my own work. I can write my own fictitious interviews and melodies but I want authenticity and to reference my own culture - which has existed for at least a 1000 years.

Do you really want creativity to be defined by smart-ass attorneys and juries not qualified for the task?
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Thu May 02, 2019 9:14 am

Well I can see your comparison but I also understand why people may not see it as valid. Ideas seldom come in a vacuum and there’s undoubtedly s tradition of inspiration, or borrowing, in any art.. but sampling goes way beyond it: it is a perfect, bit by bit reproduction of a splice of someone’s work. In every art, when that goes beyond certain (small) limits, it’s called plagiarism, since times immemorable. And copyright laws have simply taken that fact into law.

Now certain artists manage to take the copies and, while keeping their identity, make something out of them so new and original that it’s entirely different and original.

Most don’t, and simply make the copies unrecognizable (which I think it’s perfectly legitimate). But when they don’t do either things and still want to benefit from someone else’s work as a creative trampoline, it’s only fair that they recognize it, isn’t it?

Since there can’t be hard and fast rules on whether a work is transformative or just plagiarism, we’re back to the concept of judgment by an average group of people.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Thu May 02, 2019 9:29 am

blinddrew wrote:copyright law has ratcheted one way over the last few decades to the point that is completely out of step with how people use digital media every day.

If that was a valid argument, it would be perfectly ok to rape women, pillage cities and kill anyone who you have a grudge with. After all that was once pretty common and everybody that could was doing it.

That everyone can do something and want to doesn’t make that something ok.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu May 02, 2019 10:29 am

CS70 wrote: it’s called plagiarism, since times immemorable. And copyright laws have simply taken that fact into law.

No it is not "since times immemorial", plagiarism and copyright are modern concepts. In Baroque times composers would use other composer's melodies. One of Bach's organ concertos is entirely based an a work by Vivaldi.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Thu May 02, 2019 11:28 am

Still Vibrations wrote:
CS70 wrote: it’s called plagiarism, since times immemorable. And copyright laws have simply taken that fact into law.

No it is not "since times immemorial", plagiarism and copyright are modern concepts. In Baroque times composers would use other composer's melodies. One of Bach's organ concertos is entirely based an a work by Vivaldi.

But that's the point. "Based on" is not the same as "identical". When Bach transcribed Vivaldi, it was Bach transcribing Vivaldi, either now or in 1714. And if had claimed a piece as his (which I'm not aware dear J.S. ever did) it would have been recognized as a falsehood even back then by anyone who knew both. People still had ears.

Of course Bach didn't need to - just like Tommy Emmanuel doesn't claim the piece as his when he plays Dark Eyes and Segovia neither when he plays Albeniz (or Bach). It's called "cover" - and while the name is new, the idea is not. You love something, you play it on your instrument (and, when technology allows, you record it).

Sampling is not covering and not "based on": it's an identical copy, not a transcription or a reinvention or an inspiration. Anyone with a digital recorder can do it. Perhaps you cannot see that difference, but it's hardly a surprise that lots of people do.

A more interesting comparison would be with the blues or folk tradition - but then it's a question of whether or not the old costume of copying without crediting was something good or not. Lots of traditional things are sh**te.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Brian M Rose » Thu May 02, 2019 11:57 am

Much of the argument seems to be based on 'if I can do it, then I will do it.'
On a wider basis, it's very easy to upload (and for others to download) almost any content onto the internet. It's why we at Radio Harrow will only allow paid-for content on air; it's part of our MCPS/PRS license.
So YouTube and other similar places are totally out.
OK, it's unlikely, but most digital content is watermarked. Unauthorized use can be detected.
I accept the point of transcribing other earlier works in classical music, but this is generally described as such (Brittan's Young Persons' Guide to the Orchestra - Based on a theme my Henry Purcell).
Copyright theft is just that; Theft. It is NOT a victimless crime. It affects the author, performers, directors, technicians; everyone. And that, I suspect is most people on this forum.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby ken long » Thu May 02, 2019 12:11 pm

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


Wasn't replying to you. Context helps. ;)

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?[/quote]

No, I don't believe they did, as defined by law.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby ken long » Thu May 02, 2019 12:14 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:
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.

Most people will understand a film with their eyes closed. Not so much with the sound off.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby ken long » Thu May 02, 2019 12:15 pm

CS70 wrote: But when they don’t do either things and still want to benefit from someone else’s work as a creative trampoline, it’s only fair that they recognize it, isn’t it?

exactly this.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu May 02, 2019 1:19 pm

CS70 wrote:But that's the point. "Based on" is not the same as "identical". When Bach transcribed Vivaldi, it was Bach transcribing Vivaldi, either now or in 1714. And if had claimed a piece as his (which I'm not aware dear J.S. ever did) it would have been recognized as a falsehood even back then by anyone who knew both. People still had ears.

It is Organ Concerto in Am by J. S. Bach. Do you have any evidence for your assertion that "it would have been recognized as a falsehood"? You are projecting 20th/21st century thinking onto a period several hundred years ago when copyright was not an issue.

The copyright law includes sampling and quotation, that's why the discussion is wider. One of the seminal jazz tracks of the second half of the 20th century is 'So What' by Miles Davis. The theme is taken from a previous recording by Ahmed Jamal. Do you really think one of the great jazz recordings that changed the direction of jazz, should not have been allowed because the theme was not original? Do you think that track is no good because Miles Davis didn't write every note himself?
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu May 02, 2019 1:30 pm

CS70 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:copyright law has ratcheted one way over the last few decades to the point that is completely out of step with how people use digital media every day.

If that was a valid argument, it would be perfectly ok to rape women, pillage cities and kill anyone who you have a grudge with. After all that was once pretty common and everybody that could was doing it.

That everyone can do something and want to doesn’t make that something ok.

That is an irrelevant analogy. But as you used it you are supporting what Drew said. Rape laws have kept up and changed with modern thinking. It is no longer a defence to say the victim voluntarily came up for coffee, or she was wearing revealing clothes. The law has been modernised.

You don't seem to understand the concepts of references, quotation, authenticity, homage - or being part of a living culture. If someone takes a short sample and transforms it creatively to create something new than that should be legal I believe. It is the contemporary equivalent of a classical composer's variations on someone else's theme. Variations on a Theme of Beethoven is composed by Brahms: not Beethoven arranged/transcribed/covered/stolen by Brahms.

This is what Steve Jobs said on a PBS programme:

"Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. I mean Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

Note: the attribution to Picasso, although common, is usually disputed.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Thu May 02, 2019 5:24 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:
It is Organ Concerto in Am by J. S. Bach. Do you have any evidence for your assertion that "it would have been recognized as a falsehood"? You are projecting 20th/21st century thinking onto a period several hundred years ago when copyright was not an issue.

Do you have evidence that the sun raised back then? Or that people had ears? This is not an issue of copyright, but an issue of having ears. Or are you claiming that people weren’t able to recognize a tune back then? And that had no idea of authorship. It may have been considered ok and the convention might have been that no permission was needed, but that doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t have been able to recognize the borrowing.

The Weimar concerts are transcripts of Vivaldi,and Bach never claimed them as his own. Heck, that it did not is exactly why we know Vivaldi nowadays, as he was largely forgotten for two centuries..

Of course people did tributes and took musical ideas and whatever, no more no less that it happens today and in a way so that copyright has zero effect. But they never took something identical (and complex enough to have an identity) and lifted as is. There were always adjustments, variations, embellishments and attribution was mostly understood (and the proof of the pudding is that borrowing is well recognized today).

But the main place that I know of where things were lifted verbatim and claimed as one own’s (typically chunks of lyrics) was folk tradition.

The copyright law includes sampling and quotation, that's why the discussion is wider. One of the seminal jazz tracks of the second half of the 20th century is 'So What' by Miles Davis. The theme is taken from a previous recording by Ahmed Jamal. Do you really think one of the great jazz recordings that changed the direction of jazz, should not have been allowed because the theme was not original? Do you think that track is no good because Miles Davis didn't write every note himself?

Again, tou’re just proving my point: it the work is trasformative enough, there’s no problem.

But the co law as it is, like any law, is subject to an additional criterion: someone’s got to initiate a judgement. Bet Jamal never did. Had it done so, the question would have been put to the average joes and maybe the original author would have benefited, which is a good thing, right?
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby CS70 » Thu May 02, 2019 6:20 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:
CS70 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:copyright law has ratcheted one way over the last few decades to the point that is completely out of step with how people use digital media every day.

If that was a valid argument, it would be perfectly ok to rape women, pillage cities and kill anyone who you have a grudge with. After all that was once pretty common and everybody that could was doing it.

That everyone can do something and want to doesn’t make that something ok.

That is an irrelevant analogy. But as you used it you are supporting what Drew said. Rape laws have kept up and changed with modern thinking.


Indeed, and a the chang driver was certainly not «what people do», but an ethical concept the attitude that raping, pillaging and killing is not kosher.

Also stealing is, to me, not kosher. Is it for you?
As I did say, I think that «it’s what people do» does not makes something right. Does it for you?

If you answer yes, fair enough, but again you may hardly feign surprise that other people dont share your views.

Besides, if it’s all right to change things because of changing costumes, all your argument about tradition becomes moot.

You don't seem to understand the concepts of references, quotation, authenticity, homage - or being part of a living culture.

If you read up what I wrote, you might notice I said I have no problems with that, nor do most of the people who have replied here. I do it myself more than happily. The only problem I have is with taking someone’s work, profiting from it and give nothing to the originator. And if one gets away with only because the someone is less known, popular, or weaker, I most definitely have a problem with it.

If someone takes a short sample and transforms it creatively to create something new than that should be legal I believe.


If you had read what I wrote, you would know that so do I. And so does the copyright law. The issue is who decides what’s transformative enough. It can hardly be the person who borrows, innit? The current copyright law simply provides a method: blatant, identical copy is what it, a blatant identical copy. If the author means that his work is assembling blatant identical copies in a way that is transformative, but there’s no agreement on the matter between him and the original author(s), the question is solved by a jury of common men.

Perhaps they aren’t that learned on Bach and Vivaldi, but I suspect that’s a bit by design ;-)
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu May 02, 2019 9:09 pm

Regarding this discussion, we disagree.

For information only:
J. S. Bach died in 1750 and it was during that century that wholesale use of other's work started to become questioned. I do not support the wholesale use of other people's creativity either. If you are interested, there is an article that goes into detail about borrowing in classical music by J. Peter Burkholder, Borrowing, on Grove Music Online.
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Re: Sampling and the law

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri May 03, 2019 2:56 am

An obligatory related link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac

No specific wisdom in the above, but I commend it on its own merits and if you haven't watched it, enjoy.

Followup: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2015/1 ... gets-paid/

Not a perfect outcome, but very gratifying to see gofundme.com used for good nonetheless.
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