[…] The suit doesn’t surprise Kembrew McLeod, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, and co-author, with economist and researcher Peter DiCola, of the book “Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling.” “‘Paul’s Boutique’ and other albums of that era are like ticking legal time bombs,” says McLeod, who also co-produced the acclaimed documentary “Copyright Criminals.” “For instance, in 2005, Run DMC was sued by the Knack for using ‘My Sharona’ for its song ‘It’s Tricky.’ And they were sued 20 years after the fact.”
This reality is compounded by the fact that each time “Paul’s Boutique” is issued in a new format, or repackaged, the statute of limitations on filing an infraction claim starts anew at year zero. “It’s very confusing,” McLeod says.
In “Creative License,” he and DiCola specifically examined the samples in both “Paul’s Boutique” and Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet,” two classics of hip-hop’s sample era, and estimated the cost of legally producing, with all samples intact, those records today.
Says McLeod: “Based on the number of sales, both albums would have lost money per unit, and ‘Paul’s Boutique’ would have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million — and we were being extremely conservative with our estimates.” […]