IndependentLens: Copyright Criminals - TV program discussion

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timcoalman
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IndependentLens: Copyright Criminals - TV program discussion

Post by timcoalman » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:35 pm

Anyone catch this on PBS? Steve Albini was a standout for me - dead-on contempt with appropriate disregard of artistic ability to take a sample vs make music.

The position of the director seemed to lean towards the benefit/art of sampling and how copyright holds back the artistic freedom - with mild recognition that artists are at a loss sometimes (mitigated by continued assertions that the main music sampled is either lost music that no one cares about/OOP or it is owned by caricatured corporations/lawyers)

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/copyright-criminals/

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Post by decocco » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:29 am

I too saw that program on PBS and thought it was fairly interesting. The one thing that stood out to me was that most of the music they played that consisted of sampled music was pretty much unlistenable (in my opinion). I guess some people think it's cool to play 5 pop songs at the same time and call that a work of art. Good for them, but I'm not buying it.

However, I do like plenty of music that utilizes samples of other peoples' work. Sampling doesn't have to be tasteless or illegal. I have no problem with people sampling the work of others, as long as they do so legally and give credit where it's due. Stealing is wrong.

I think the film was giving way too much credit to people who just basically steal other people's music for a living and turn it into mind-numbing mush. I seriously think you have to be on X to want to listen to most of that stuff.
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Post by AstroDan » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:56 am

I didn't see that unfortunately, but I would say Paul's Boutique set the standard for what could be achieved through sampling.
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Post by locosoundman » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:42 am

Sampling is such a broad and undefined term as to be almost useless. However, comparing it to doing cover tunes is completely missing the point and shows a lack of musical sophistication and understanding.

We don't just need new copyright laws, we need a new vocabulary.
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Post by timcoalman » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:43 pm

The one thing that stood out to me was that most of the music they played that consisted of sampled music was pretty much unlistenable (in my opinion). I guess some people think it's cool to play 5 pop songs at the same time and call that a work of art. Good for them, but I'm not buying it.

However, I do like plenty of music that utilizes samples of other peoples' work. Sampling doesn't have to be tasteless or illegal. I have no problem with people sampling the work of others, as long as they do so legally and give credit where it's due. Stealing is wrong.
This is a better statement of my sentiment than what I originally posted. I immediately thought of great uses of samples when I read the above quote and realized I overgeneralized and was thinking within the scope of the program - which was narrow.

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Post by apropos of nothing » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:41 am

"The bitter comes out better on a stolen guitar/You're the blessed we're the spiders from mars."

We do need a new vocabulary. The copyright office's original charge is to "Promote the useful arts." Anything that is counter to that aim (e.g.g attempts to claim "ownership" of culture in perpetuity) is money-grubbing at best and treasonous at worst.

Also again like to point out that there weren't keyboard instruments that could play the Well-Tempered Clavier without copious retuning when Bach wrote them. Music listening is meditation -- you actually have to train your ears to be receptive to the timbres and dynamics of an idiom you're not steeped in. If you hear yourself mouthing the aphorism, "I like everything besides [idiom] -- all [idiom] sounds like noise to me," what that means is that you've failed as a music listener.

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Post by digdoug » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:34 pm

Copyright and patent are incredibly abused. Labels, publishers, corporations reap the largest rewards as a result of these restrictions, the intention of which was merely to periodically stimulate the production of creative works.

I agree with Richard Stallman - copyright is a tradeoff. By increasing it's power, we sacrifice the freedom of the public to create whatever it wishes to protect and enrich a few powerful parties.

So no, I don't necessarily think it's about changing vocabulary. It's about using a sensible amount of copyright to ensure creative publishing of any kind, NO MORE.

Long-winded way of saying: people should be able to sample whatever the F they want.
D

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Post by locosoundman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:43 am

Long-winded way of saying: people should be able to sample whatever the F they want.
D
For me it's not about people being able to sample. It's how they use the samples that counts. It also boils down to being fair: if you use someone else's work to make money, then you owe them a cut.

Let me clarify: if you take the M.C. Hammer/Rick James scenario or everybody who uses "Good Times" by Le Chic, the only thing "original" is the lyrics: they are using someone else's composition verbatim. It's not taken out of context to make some sort of artistic or social statement, it is not altered in any way. A snippet is taken and some new lyrics are Karaoke'd over it. To me, whoever composed the music should get a 50% cut of whatever money is made, since that is their contribution.

Compare that to some of the other uses of sampling: if you want to stay in the Rap/Hip Hop world, The Bomb Squad did a number of fairly amazing Music Concrete pieces utilizing sampling and remixing and often it was placing the sample in a new context creating something entirely new in the process. Even so, the sources for these samples should be credited, if possible, but figuring out who should get paid and how much is insane.

The problems with exploiting creative works for money are beyond my little brain. It is such a slippery slope and does not lend itself well to be being litigated fairly.
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Post by ubertar » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:02 am

What happens when you apply Kant's Categorical Imperative to sampling? (What if everybody did it?)
Everything would be endlessly recycled until there was nothing left to draw from. "Pop eats itelf" indeed.

I don't have a moral problem with people sampling... I just don't have any interest in it. I don't like the idea of digital synths either, where you're using someone else's drum sounds, etc.

Maybe I tend to be a purist about this stuff, since I make most of my instruments and now record them with home-made mics, but I just find the whole idea of sampling lame. I don't really have a problem with other people doing it (just don't use my stuff without permission), but I don't want to listen to it either. Make your own sounds, then sample those.
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Post by digdoug » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:44 pm

locosoundman wrote:
Long-winded way of saying: people should be able to sample whatever the F they want.
D
It also boils down to being fair: if you use someone else's work to make money, then you owe them a cut.
I'm not arguing against some sensible threshold at which point the artist is owed a cut. I'm suggesting the way we think about copyright is wrong. It should be applied sparingly, and only when production is in danger - as you could argue would be the case when someone makes -a lot- of money with another person's riff.

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