As part of a multi-part discussion series, FMC and media professor Kembrew McLeod (University of Iowa) hosted Creative License: a Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use — a panel discussion that took place at The Public Theater in New York City on Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:00 PM.
Sampling is a music-making technique that incorporates a portion of a previously existing sound recording — sometimes in an altered form — into a new work. While sampling and mashups have become part of the musical lexicon — thanks in large part to the development of digital technologies that allow artists to splice, mix and mashup with relative ease — the practice remains contentious as it represents a creative use not historically considered by copyright law. Unlike recording a cover song, using samples of an existing piece of music to create a new musical work implicate not only the interests of the original composition’s creators, but also the copyright holders of the sound recordings (usually the record label).
Over the past 20 years, guided largely by landmark court decisions such as Grand Upright and Bridgeport, an ad hoc sample license clearance process has developed through which samplers obtain permissions and negotiate licensing fees with copyright holders. While this clearance process has led to revenue for some artists whose work has been licensed and allows the original creator to say no to uses he/she may find objectionable, it remains a source of frustration for many sampling artists, who find it cumbersome, time-consuming, inefficient and expensive.
How can the law balance the interests of original artists and copyright owners with those of new creators and a public hungry for sample-based music? Girl Talk, who uses more than 300 uncleared samples of classic pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B on his latest album Feed the Animals, has said in the press that he thinks his use of samples is a “fair use” and, therefore, does not need to be licensed. What would constitute “fair use” uses in this environment?
As part of a multi-part discussion series, Future of Music Coalition and media professor Kembrew McLeod (University of Iowa) examined this issue at Creative License: a Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use — a panel discussion that took place at The Public Theater in New York City on Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:00 PM.
Co-presented with the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and The Copyright Society of the USA, this evening event provided lawyers, musicians, advocates, academics and students with an opportunity to participate in a robust but balanced conversation about the legal and social challenges at the intersection of copyright, creativity and commerce.
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Cocktail Hour in the lobby of The Public Theater
7:00 PM - 7:20 PM
Conversation with Kembrew McLeod, documentary filmmaker, associate professor, University of Iowa and co-author of Creative License and producer Steve Stein (aka Steinski) of Sonic Boom
7:20 PM - 8:30 PM
Panel discussion about music, sampling and fair use with:
June M. Besek Executive Director, Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia Law School
El-P CEO/Owner, Definitive Jux Records
Peter Jaszi Faculty Director/Professor, American University
T.S. Monk Recording Artist, Bandleader, Composer, Educator
Moderated by Kembrew McLeod, documentary filmmaker, associate professor, University of Iowa and co-author of Creative License