Every day this week, we will be featuring portions of an interview that FMC’s Kristin Thomson conducted with Peter DiCola and Kembrew McLeod, co-authors of the recently-released book Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling (Duke University Press). Peter and Kembrew spent over five years pulling together the materials for this book, which details the development of the sample license clearance process through the eyes of musicians, rightsholders, attorneys, clearance experts and historians.
Interview: Part 3
Kristin: As you conducted the interviews and did the research, what most surprised you about the topic, either as expressed by the folks that you interviewed or through the research around the economic and legal framework?
Kembrew: I wouldn’t necessarily use the word “surprise,” but one thing that I did notice, which I wasn’t expecting, was the number of hip-hop artists who sample who were very upfront about the fact that they understand that the original artists want to get paid or that they want to control the context in which that song got sampled, re-worked. There was a great amount of empathy on the part of the artists who sample for the people who don’t necessarily like sampling.
Peter: I think the thing that surprised me most is that when you talk to the people who were getting sampled – the samplees – they often emphasized control rather than money. Some were most upset about not getting credit. The reason they would deny permission for samples would often be more along the lines of, ‘I don’t agree with the sampler’s politics,’ or ‘I don’t like the message it sends to children in this new song,’ or just, ‘I want to have control over my work.’ It wasn’t so much, ‘This new song sampled me, someone made money, and I didn’t get paid.’ Of course part of what creators and copyright owners want is money, perhaps a large part. But it was interesting to me that it was such a complicated mindset, with aspects of artistic control being so central.
Tomorrow: Part 4
To support the book’s release, Peter and Kembrew are doing a number of public events and readings, including:
Tuesday, April 26: Peter DiCola and Kembrew McLeod at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City, IA