I am a producer, but more importantly, i'm a huge hip-hop fan. This 2004 court decision (see below) about using samples has bothered me since it was announced, nearly two years ago.
This post/article link maybe should be in the Lesson, but I think that since it can have a pretty substantial effect on what producers' create, it belongs in here.
Here's my question for you: do you just ignore this ruling, whose logic says that even if you lift an individual snare drum from a previous composition, you could be busted for copyright infringement? or do keep the ruling in mind, and just go that extra distance to tweak or flip a sample to making it essentially unrecognizable from its previous musical context?
When P. Diddy rapped in 1997 about taking "hits from the '80s," it didn't sound so crazy, because sampling had been an integral part of rap music for years.
On Tuesday, however, a federal appeals court found the process a bit less reasonable, ruling that artists must pay for every musical sample in their work.
The ruling says artists must pay for not only large samples of another artist's work, but also snippets — smaller notes, chords and beats that are not the artist's original composition — which had previously been legal, according to The Associated Press.
Three judges sitting on the panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said the same federal laws currently in place to halt music piracy will also apply to digital sampling, and explained, "If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you 'lift' or 'sample' something less than the whole? Our answer to that question is in the negative."
The case at the crux of this new ruling focuses on the 1990 N.W.A song "100 Miles and Runnin'." The track samples a three-note guitar riff from a 1975 Funkadelic track, "Get Off Your Ass and Jam." The sample, in which the pitch has been lowered, is only two seconds long but is looped to extend to 16 beats and appears five times throughout the track.
The N.W.A song was included in the 1998 film "I Got the Hook Up," which starred Master P and was produced by his No Limit Films. The film company has argued that the sample was not protected by copyright law.
In 2002, a lower court said that although the Clinton riff was in fact entitled to copyright protection, the specific sample "did not rise to the level of legally cognizable appropriation," according to the AP. The appeals court opposed that decision, explaining that an artist who acknowledges that they made use of another artist's work may be liable, and sent the case back to the lower court.
"Get a license or do not sample," the court said Tuesday. "We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."
3. "It doesn't and shouldn't slow down the production process" In response to Reply # 0 Thu May-18-06 03:42 PM by johnbook
If you are on a major label, and you are sampling a big chunk of a song, pay up. That's how I feel. I mean, you are going to get some nice royalties for a year or so, and really for the life of a song. The first two years, it will be heard and used extensively, but what you want is the kind of lifespan equal to a "Wild Thing" or "Bust A Move", where it will be used 10 to 15 years down the line.
It doesn't hurt to go through the legal channels, especially if you are a major label artist. If it can't be cleared, you should have the means to find a similar sounding sample, or find a musician who would be willing to recreate/interpolate for you. Or if the original musician is alive, make contact with them. It might help them financially. Otherwise it will look like that prom scene in "Hairspray", where they're playing a record and someone else is lip-synching. Meanwhile outside the original singer is walking outside, a bum, trying to find another dime and a warm place to sleep. ---- Independent artists are able to get away with a bit more not by legal means, but because of the fact that they are not as high profile as a major label artist. You must also think like a major label artist, in case someone, somewhere hears your song, is moved, and wants to use it and/or sign you. Can you legally say that the music in your track is original? If not, then make sure you tell the person responsible for clearing samples what you or your producer used. If it can't be cleared, make sure you or your producer has accesst to the original multi-tracks so you can make changes.
Now, should that stop anyone from making music with "unauthorized samples"? Of course not. But also know the risks of doing so, if there is a chance of it being heard by a wider audience. If you are going to self-release your material, it shouldn't be a problem. If you are working with a label, know what level they're at.
To be honest, don't think too hard about the legality of samples, because we all know what we're doing when we sample. We're taking someone else's sound, and rearranging it to become something new. Once you put those tracks out to the public, be forewarned.
4. "Yep! If you're big enough to sue, you're big enough to pay for samples...." In response to Reply # 3 Thu May-18-06 07:15 PM by silkyhyde
for the underground producer...Big Brother ain't watching us. They want the money that comes from platinum record sales. If you're not moving at least 50,000 units, don't worry. The legal fees associated with coming after you will outweigh the amount they stand to gain from a verdict. If you're moving 50,000+, I'd start watching my back, cuz then you're at Madlib status, and "the suites is watching".