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>From steevatflotsam.detritus.net Wed Sep 23 21:02:30 1998
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Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 00:01:22 -0400
From: The Evolution Control Committee <eccatpobox.com>
Subject: Re: [rumori] Fwd: FAQ draft from the ECC
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Okay, I'm in a contributing mood.
Oh, it dawned on me that in collecting all the parts of the FAQ
together, I neglected to include credit where it's due. You might want to
let people know that if they want credit for something they write, they
might include their credit-text in brackets after their contribution, like
this. [Mark G./eccatpobox.com]
>ISN'T THIS ILLEGAL?
> The first amendment protects free speech. If our purpose was to steal
>things and present them as ours, we would indeed be breaking the law. But
>satire is fair use, well-protected by current legal statutes. We maintain
>the right to make something new out of the readymades of today, as a means
>of commenting on what they are trying to communicate.
Let's elaborate a little: First of all, the "Fair Use" exception to the
copyright law is often claimed these days as a justification for a sample
used. This is best used in the case of parody, such as when 2 Live Crew
successfully defended themselves in supreme court for sampling Roy
Orbison's "Pretty Woman" without permission. However, few people have the
deep pockets that 2 Live Crew has, and frequently cannot afford the
staggering legal bills accrued when defending your rights all the way to
the supreme court. Subsequently, people like John Oswald and Negativland
were forced to settle their legal cases (brought on by a recording industry
professional group and Island Records/U2, respectively) out of court. With
enough money, litigation can be prolonged nearly forever, and if you can't
afford your lawyers for forever, you must settle out of court --
essentially, you lose because you are not rich.
In end, "illegal" is whatever the courts decide. However, not all
artists using uncleared samples get nasty legal letters from the sample
sources. There is a certain "radar level" one can fly beneath to avoid
legal action. There are many factors at work here to determine this, but
let's just say that you could release a CD of fairly sample-heavy stuff,
and as long as it doesn't get a lot of press and airplay (but perhaps gets
a medium amount), you might come out clean. You might not of course, but in
general labels are most interested in suing when they think they can get
money or good PR out of it. They don't get good PR when they squish a
little guy (if the little guy yells loudly enough, like Negativland did),
and they often won't get money either if you've only pressed 1,000 CDs and
only sold half. You might get the consolation prize though: a "cease and
desist" letter, instructing you to stop selling your stuff and destroy the
rest. It's up to you whether to follow it, though. (Illegal Arts -- the
"Desconstructing Beck" people -- got one, chose to ignore it, and received
no further hassle.)
My non-legally-binding advice is this: Sample Now, Ask Questions Later.
Don't start worrying about the legality of your sampling unless you think
that your recording has a realistic chance of getting good spots on the CMJ
charts and you might sell a few thousand of your release. [Mark G. of The
>WHO STARTED ALL THIS?
For this section, I recommend that people make listening
recommendations for each band. Also, if web resources are available, it
might be good to list them.
Just thought I'd list him for an honorary mention. Dickie Goodman did
all those singles where he "interviews" a famous person/politician, and the
answers to his question are song lyrics from popular songs of the time.
It's notable that he used samples from the original songs for the answers
and never got sued. I don't know if he asked permission, but considering
the number and diversity of the samples used in each record, I'm guessing
not. I think his singles were done around the early 70's. Recommended
Listening: Just about anything. I believe you'll be most likely to find 7"
singles and not full-lengths. [Mark G. of The ECC/eccatpobox.com]
>GREATER THAN ONE:
The brainchild of two visual art students, Greater Than One straddled
the line between heady art stuff and dance music. Greater Than One also
used a significant amount of sampling during a time when many bands were
only just learning the value of it. Their album "G-Force" was likely done
entirely with samples of other work, from Kraftwerk to Ken Russell movies.
Greater Than One went one to streamline themselves into GTO when they
wanted to make more dance-accessible music. The female member (sorry, can't
remember her name) died in 1997 of cancer. The remaining member has
continued to do work under another name; again, can't remember the name,
but I believe it is Order Out Of Chaos (I know "chaos" is in the name).
Recommended listening: G-Force, And All The Masters Licked You, Trust.
[Mark G. of The ECC/eccatpobox.com]
In spite of their popularity, I wanted to include Public Enemy in this
list for a few reasons. Public Enemy, along with Hank Shocklee and The Bomb
Squad, really solidified the role of sampling in hip-hop, rap, and other
dance musics. PE made it unmistably clear that the infamous "Funky Drummer"
beat of James Brown was even fresher almost twenty years after it was
recorded, and paved the way for literally thousands of others to use the
beat in future dance music. They sampled others, they sampled themselves,
and demonstrated that sampling had a viable and legitimate use in modern
CLEARING: If you wish to legally use a sample of another work in your own,
you must first clear that sample by contacting the company who owns that
sample. This is often NOT the author of the original work -- for instance,
the sample 2 Live Crew used from Roy Orbison's song "Pretty Woman" is now
owned by Acuff-Rose Publishing.
Steev -- btw, dunno if you submitted something for Extracted Celluloid,
but if you did I'm sorry not to see your name on the list. But then again I
didn't make the cut myself. :-) I'm not too disappointed; the track I
submitted could have been a lot better really. On the better side, Illegal
Arts is intereted in possibly carrying Rocked By Rape in their catalog...
eccatpobox.com The Evolution Control
>>> WWWeb: http://pobox.com/~ecc <<<
| "I don't mind getting sampled... it is an honor." |
| - Jean-Jacques Perrey |