On Valentine’s Day, De La Soul released most of their back catalog for free. Fans rejoiced at the unexpected gift, which included the albums 3 Feet High and Rising (1989), De La Soul Is Dead (1991), Buhloone Mind State(1993), and Stakes Is High (1996) and dozens of rare remixes, B-sides, and instrumentals. The move generated huge amounts of buzz and goodwill, judging by the outpouring of affection on Facebook, Twitter, and around the Web. It will help, no doubt, with the tour they just announced, on the eve of their 25th anniversary as a group. read more
Music fans were treated to a Valentine’s surprise last week when hip-hop pioneers De La Souloffered up their acclaimed back catalog for free download through their official website. Pretty awesome for fans and newcomers alike. Still, this giveaway comes with a complicated backstory, one marked by deep frustration with the state of sample clearances. In particular, De La Soul are emblematic of challenges facing artists in an environment of corporate mergers and major label ownership. read more
[…] 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.” read more
Two weeks ago we talked about the 80s-metal band, Poison, and the recent copyright infringement lawsuit brought against them*. This week, we’ll dive deeper into the copyright infringement issues surrounding the use of sampled music.
[…] McLeod and DiCola believe that people, not corporate entities define society and that even wonderfully radical art or technology is still beholden to that society. They supplement this sentiment with a proposal to reform sample clearance laws, under which artists are free to sample within reason, and rights holders can pay a fee to a third, possibly governmental, party to stop the sampling artist. It’s an interesting idea that requires all parties to create a shared perspective on the new digital reality. But given the political dimension of our society’s inability to be proactive about anything, their proposal is largely an academic exercise. read more
In the last thirty years, technology has transformed the conversation between past and present musicians: it is now possible to quote a previous work not only note for note, but byte for byte. The turntable and the sampler are the hip-hop artist’s quintessential instruments. The culture of hip-hop bricolage, coupled with intense commercial pressures in the recording industry and an inevitable proliferation of rip-off artists, has created difficult challenges for copyright law and for the concept of licensing. Several cultures must adapt to each other, and often they are doing so in the courtroom. read more
New York has made the cover of plenty of albums, from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (161 W. Fourth St.) to Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti (96 St. Mark’s Place) to the first New York Dolls album (131 Second Ave.). The corner of Rivington and Ludlow is home to another: Paul’s Boutique, the landmark 1989 album by the Beastie Boys.
“Creative License” is recommended not just for music geeks or music business geeks, but for anyone interested in law, the arts or both. Well written and treated with care, McLeod and DiCola’s work should be read on college campuses around the country.
The April release of Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling marked the collaborative effort between the book’s authors and the team at Future of Music Coalition. Co-authored by Kembrew McLeod and FMC board member Peter DiCola, with contributions from Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson of FMC, Creative License is a significant contribution to the debate surrounding the law of digital sampling. read more