It’s no longer just about music sampling. It’s about movie clips,
it’s about YouTube, and it’s about all of these new vehicles that we have.
I mean, I’ve got stuff on my phone that’s unbelievable.
t. s. monk
In many cases, sound collage creates something new and interesting
from its constituent parts. At the same time, the original composition
was written by someone other than the collage artist, and yet another
person may have created the sampled sound recording— such as the
Isley Brothers covering a Lennon and McCartney song, or the Beatles
performing the Isleys’ “Twist and Shout” on one of the Fab Four’s early
albums. All of these stakeholders brought something of value into the
world, and— from a creative perspective, at least— the more art in exis-
tence, the better (even if not all of it is brilliant). However, artists who
have been sampled might think differently about this proposition, espe-
cially if they hear their musical work in a context that disturbs them.
How can these conflicts be resolved? And, from a legal perspective,
which of the competing claims is likely to succeed? Because the sam-
pled musicians’ creations came first, it would seem that copyright law
would dictate that their interests trump those of the sampling musi-
cian. Unless a limitation, exception, or defense applies, the rights they
enjoy in the composition and sound recording will also apply to a sam-
ple of that composition and sound recording. If they wish to license
the sample, they can name their price (as high as they want) and they
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