DJ Spooky on sampling and copyright

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Wired News has a good interview with DJ Spooky, who has a new book out called Rhythm Science. He talks about the culture of sampling and the legalities around copyright and re-use of materials.

WN: There was a recent case of NWA using a snippet of George Clinton’s music, and a court ruled that even though the sample was unrecognizable, NWA still had to secure rights to use it.

Miller: That means they didn’t change it enough. Basic rule of thumb: … you don’t want to get sued.

It’s a nightmare. There (are) lawyers. There are websites who filter through all records — everything. People are paid to just listen to music at this point and listen for samples….

In the same way a lot of people involved with internet hacking culture will hack your site and then call you up and say “By the way, we have security services we’d like to offer you,” you might get a little phone call saying, “There is a sample on your record that we heard, and we’d be more than happy to clear it for you.” Of course implying that if you don’t, the next phone call will be to the people you sampled.

It’s a paradoxical world. On one hand, sampling is a homage to your favorite records and favorite sounds, but you have to pay through the nose if you feel like doing that.

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