They Say That I Stole This

Friday, December 24, 2010

Transcript

Twenty years ago a series of lawsuits criminalized the hip-hop sampling of artists like Hank Shocklee and Public Enemy. And yet, two decades later, artists like Girl Talk have found success breaking those same sampling laws. OTM producer Jamie York talks to Girl Talk, Shocklee and Duke Law professor James Boyle about two decades of sampling - on both sides of the law.

Comments [10]

John

"The samplers are people who want instant money and fame and are too lazy to learn to play an instrument or compose music.

A sampler is to a musician or composer as a concert promoter is to an orchestra."

If you take a found sound and make something new from it or recontextualize it, that's composing and creating. Avant-garde composers have been doing this for a long time.

Samples are often homages too, and there's been many artists who would have never found fame or been rediscovered if they hadn't been sampled.

Jan. 11 2011 03:25 AM
Francis Sullivan from Philadelphia

Yo Larry,

You can maintain the "purity" of your definitions as much as you like. But, the issue here is not about personal preferences; it is about legal rights. And, as the replies to you have documented, "collage artists," "avant-garde" painters, and "musical performers" all have been recognized as fitting the legal definition of "artist" and so entitled to First Amendment rights--which include re-using others' work for new expression. The only question here is whether "samplers" also fit into the same category. It doesn't matter whether they "live up" to your standards.

Jan. 03 2011 02:17 PM
Francis Sullivan from Philadelphia

In response to

"Posted by: No name December 29, 2010 - 03:31PM
Neither here nor there

So if an artist went to an art museum and clipped Mona Lisa's smile and pasted it onto a Van Gogh, it would be art? But since stealing music is so easy (copy paste, mp3, etc) it's ok to do? Especially if you do it a lot.

Sad."

You've never heard of Andy Warhol? He copied the Campbell's Soup can among other things.

Jan. 03 2011 02:00 PM
Larry from Montgomery Village, MD

Jude,

Without original content delivered by real composers and musicians, Girl talk would be lost. He is the sonic equivalent to a collage artist. I'm not bitter. Your attempt to perform psychoanalysis instead of responding to the content of what I posted simply showed the shallowness of your own argument. Let's look at another example:

Elvis Presley

Not a composer
Not a musician
A tremendous performer

Girl Talk
Same as above.

I don't think it's denigrating to classify him with artists such as Elvis. It's just that calling him a musician or performer is an incorrect categorization of what he does.

Jan. 02 2011 03:49 PM
Jade E. Freeman from Lawrence, KS

Larry, really?

Please see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KykbPtRb0K4.

Isn't music a composition of sounds played at different pitches and keys arranged by time in a sequence in a creative or transformative way? If not, what is it?

Don't let bitterness deprive you objectivity and reasonableness; photo artists, geeks and non-geeks alike, use digital cameras, computers and PhotoShop. I think Foto-Mat is out of business, but I could be wrong.

Collage artists are internationally recognized and legally protected as such.

By your definition, those who use synthesizers aren't artists because they use existing sounds to make music, right? At what point is a sound or instrument of a sound sufficiently "new" to meet your standards? The legal standard is quite low.

Also, when is a performance not art? It could be "good" or "bad", but I can't think of any occasion where a performance falls outside the definition of art.

Thanks for the discussion!

Dec. 31 2010 08:27 PM
Larry from Montgomery Village, MD

To #4.

I've seen him. flying fingers on a laptop while preening for the chicks does not make someone a composer. He is a performer, but not a musician.

an, yes, I do know what composition and musicianship are. I have written music and both played and taught a number of instruments. I don't consider what he does as either. That's like calling a photoshop geek a "photo artist"

Dec. 31 2010 06:23 PM
Jade E. Freeman from Lawrence, KS

To #2 & #3 -- see Andy Warhol

To #3 -- Find Girl Talk on YouTube and watch what he does on his laptop. If that's not composition and musicianship, you don't really know what either of those mean.

Dec. 30 2010 01:47 PM
Larry from Montgomery Village, MD

I cannot regard sampling as either "art" or "musicianship."

The samplers are people who want instant money and fame and are too lazy to learn to play an instrument or compose music.

A sampler is to a musician or composer as a concert promoter is to an orchestra.

Dec. 30 2010 10:02 AM
No name from Neither here nor there

So if an artist went to an art museum and clipped Mona Lisa's smile and pasted it onto a Van Gogh, it would be art? But since stealing music is so easy (copy paste, mp3, etc) it's ok to do? Especially if you do it a lot.
Sad.

Dec. 29 2010 03:31 PM
salvatore principato from new york city

I propose a standard for fair use in sampling as this:
if the source music is used as a sound almost like an instrument then it's fair use but if is it used as a complete musical statement like a melody or beat then that source should be compensated. There is some gray area there but I think the basic premise is sound and easily identifiable

Dec. 26 2010 08:29 PM

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