January 26, 2009

Sampling Explored in New Documentary

"Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport", a documentary about digital samplings head-on collision with copyright law, features many of hip-hop musics celebrated figures—including Public Enemy, De La Soul, the Beastie Boys, and Digital Underground—as well as emerging artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more. The documentary also provides an in-depth look at artists who have been sampled, such as former James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield, as well as commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton. (Clinton says he got sued sampling his own stuff.)

A sneak preview of Copyright Criminals produced by Benjamin Frazen and Kembrew McLeod, was shown last week at Michigan Technological University. A national screening tour of cities, college campuses, and film festivals will soon follow beginning in the Spring 2009.

The courts ruling regarding copyright infringement and the possibilities of criminal prosecution has really effected the creative aspects of hip-hop...

The record labels response to this so-called "illegal" activities was to encourage rappers to make records minus easily recognizable samples, slow down and digitally manipulate samples, or better yet, have no samples at all. That in part was the essence of hip hop and it's culture. Taking something old and creating something new with it as stated in the trailer. No matter if it was a rhyme, a beat or a scratch. Now if you owned a record label, would you want to pay royalties to a performer not on your label for a sample? If you own a record label, wouldn't you sign artists that created simplistic beats and uncreative hooks that have no connection to the music of the past rather than being sued in court for copyright infringement? Makes perfect business sense, but bad sense in terms of the quality of hip hop that we hear on the radio today.

We all remember DJ Drama's felony arrest a year ago in Atlanta for making mixtapes.

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