Back in 2005, I watched Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee and funk godfather George Clinton debate this issue at a conference in D.C. Shocklee played increasingly short snippets of a song and wondered how much he should pay for the right to use each sample, as commercial hip-hop artists routinely do. Eventually, only a fraction of a note was left. “Am I stealing your performance… or am I just looking for the sound?”
WASHINGTON—With a new administration and a Democratic Congress, now is the time to overhaul copyright law, advocates for reform said Wednesday—but the complex nature of the issue makes copyright legislation nearly as unrealistic as ever.Representatives of songwriters and the recording industry faced off against open Internet advocates at the Future of Music Coalition’s Policy Day here in Washington, demonstrating the entrenched divisions that remain within Democratic constituencies over copyright issues.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there was a big ol’ election last Tuesday, the results of which have Washington, D.C.(and the rest of the country, not to mention the world) buzzing. But what will a Barack Obama Administration and a new Democratic Congress mean for the music community?
We all know Greg Gillis’s invocation of the fair use principle in justifying the use of samples in Girl Talk’s Feed The Animals is dubious at best.
In an exorbitantly detailed, carefully argued blog post, The Future of Music Coalition has broken down the legal precedents of sampling in relation to Girl Talk. The post argues that though Feed The Animals is difficult to justify legally, it would be virtually impossible to produce through means sanctioned by law:
It?s no secret that Girl Talk albums are a legal minefield. Each one has, like, a gazillion samples ? none of them cleared and few if any sanctioned by the original artists.
As a recent FMC blog post points out, Girl Talk and his label Illegal Art believe his work is legal under the ?fair use principle,? a term in copyright law that recognizes that a copyrighted work can be used for ?purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research? without being considered infringing.