Attention all lovers of hip hop, producers, beat makers, turntablists, crate-diggers, entertainment lawyers, a&r’s, and musicians: On January 19th, PBS will air this new documentary, Copyright Criminals, focusing on the creative and commercial value of sampling. (Check local listings and TiVO this thang)
Everyone saw hip hop as a fad when it made its debut in the 70’s. When Sugarhill Gang “sampled” Chic’s Good Times, no one batted an eye. However, as hip hop artists and groups were gaining popularity (and cashing checks) in the eighties and nineties, the majors labels had to react. Some acts got signed while others got sued.
When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement” (via Hypebot.com), and everyone Biz Markie, Public Enemy and De La Soul were made examples of in court.
This documentary should be interesting since we’ll be hearing from the lawyers, hip hop artists, and the musicians they sample from. What do you think, can someone own a sound?