The discussion about Girl Talk — the one-man mashup act who uses more than 300 unlicensed samples on his latest release, Feed the Animals — continues unabated.
Over at Idolator, they've taken a look at whether Girl Talk's sampling would constitute "fair use" under current copyright law (they think it wouldn't). While it shouldn't be consulted for legal advice, the post does highlight the four factors the courts use in determining what constitutes "fair use" — the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantially of the use and the effect on the original work's value. A follow-up post by a lawyer friend of Idolator's goes into more detail on so-called "transformative uses."
Not long ago, FMC published our own post about GT (aka Greg Gillis) that examined the hurdles he'd have to go to license all of the uses, and also described how current copyright law protects artists who don't want their music used. (Idolator actually referenced our analysis in a couple of recent posts.) It's an extraordinarily complex issue, for which there's no easy fix. That's why we say that ongoing dialogue between all parties is probably the best way forward.
To this end, FMC facilitated a panel discussion called “Creative License: A Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use.” The event took place at The Public Theater in New York City on Oct. 6, 2008, and began with a conversation between moderator/media professor Kembrew McLeod and Steve Stein (aka Steinski of Sonic Boom), then moved into a discussion moderated by Kembrew with panelists musician/composer/educator T.S. Monk, producer/label chief El-P, Executive Director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts and Columbia Law School Professor June M. Besek, and American University Professor Peter Jaszi.
The back-and forth was pretty feisty, and featured a range of opinions from all sides of the debate. We’ll let you know when the audio and video archives make it to the website. And stay tuned for Creative License — our book about sampling co-authored by Kembrew McLeod that comes out on Duke University Press in fall 2009.
You might also get a kick out of Wired's "beat-by-beat" breakdown of Gillis' sample uses. Could it be time for a flowchart?