?uestlove on sampling and hiphop

Tell the truth, James Brown was old
‘Til Eric and Ra came out with “I Got Soul”
Rap brings back old R&B
And if we would not, people could’ve forgot

Stetsasonic came on the radio, and I’ve always loved this lyric as it really said what needed to be said about sampling in hiphop. Apparently the song is a response to James Mtume who was against sampling (I suspect he’s moderated his line in recent videos). So I went to to rapgenius page for Talkin’ All That Jazz and this video from ?uestlove was linked from that quote. It’s true, not just hiphop but also mashups too – I’ve gained so much musical knowledge from sampling, as well as the references in the lyrics. It’s a shame that because of business – it being so expensive or bothersome to sample, that creative multi-sample epics like 3 Feet High or Paul’s Boutique are nigh-on impossible to create nowadays – that such creativity was stifled after 1992 or so. Yes some have still created albums with many samples and mined the obscure (Avalanches, DJ Shadow, 2 Many DJs) but it’s rare because they have to spend years to clear them, and quite often swap in other samples and water it down for those they never will be able to clear (Madonna, Beatles, MJ etc).

But it strikes me as an own goal, because interest in James Brown, Bobby Byrd and yes even Mtume didn’t happen until people started sampling them – before they couldn’t even get arrested…and that dried up after the lawyers moved in. Now it’s crazy that if you sound a bit ‘like’ something, like with Blurred Lines who definitely stole the vibe but not sampled nor copied Marvin Gaye as many others have done before – the lawsuits fly. So even interpolation (replaying the samples, it’s what Dr Dre does) can be bad. It’s all anti-creative, where the free mixtape is what it should be, and the release is empty and lacking those references – and kids don’t know anything past five years ago. Yes they have forgot.

How NOT to file a DMCA

OK, DMCA and Cease and Desist as a mashup artist are inevitable, but I think this wins the award for the most stupid I’ve received.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows anyone to file a claim, and pull a file down for copyright infringement. This is most usually seen to bad effect on YouTube, where we have seen political censorship and people who don’t own a work creating false claims and then blaming the software (but raking in the advertising profit). Quite a few times on YouTube I’ve gotten these false claims, since it allowed smaller TV stations and media companies access to it’s automatic media fingerprinting.

One of the problems with the DMCA is there isn’t some ‘Copyright Court’ and quite often those who get slapped with one get scared and comply, even when actually they are in the right. Another is that there is no legal comeback for intentionally or accidentally submitting a false claim, apart from the counter-claim procedure to reinstate your file/video.

This is not one of those false-fingerprint cases.

So I’ve not logged into my MediaFire account for a while, about to upload something when a box popped up. Seems in March someone called Servolutions sent a DMCA about the zip of MutantPop 3 – a mashup compilation I did back in 2003.

The strange thing is: this isn’t a record label, it’s someone selling email software. Deciphering the terrible legalese of the DMCA, they seem to have sent it not because of some fingerprint to an audio file, or some irate music label wonk, but because I dared to have a zip with ‘Pop’ in the title?! I hope they didn’t actually claim every zip file on Mediafire with Pop in the title was theirs in March 2014? o.O

Yes I’ve put a counterclaim in (scary, and it’s a legal statement and I could lose my account at the very least, but I feel it’s my job to test this stuff, to kick back and see what bugs fall out), arguing fair use invoking US and UK law and bemusement about whether they have a claim at all. The UK one is the new parody one, not sure if it’s law yet, but US fair use should apply, hopefully.

When I finally realised what they did for a business – rather confusing since if you google Servolutions you get a lot of churches – I couldn’t believe what they were claiming. I’ve just double checked and downloaded the zip – yes it as it should be, a bunch of old mashup MP3s and three JPEGs. No email software at all. Unless this PopCon somehow masquerades as a Freelance Hairdresser bootleg? It seems like they tagged the URL after a genuine infringement (the first one, and no that was nothing to do with me and no it wasn’t on my space). Very sloppy.

To give Mediafire credit, they didn’t actually remove my file (the second link) but this box keeps popping up, and it’s annoying to get such a legal threat meant for someone else, and nothing to do with me, and it’s a good example of the bad power dynamic and general dysfunction of the system.

Here’s the DMCA, file under ‘Chilling Effects’ and ‘extremely dumb’, Streisand time.

The reason for suspension was:

DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE
Date: 03/03/2014
Dear Sir or Madam,It has been brought to my attention that your website is hosting unlicensed copies of copyrighted works published by Servolutions GmbH.

1. Identification of copyrighted works

Copyrighted work(s): popcon(or POPcon, POPcon PRO, POPcon NOTES)
Copyright owner: Servolutions GmbH2.
Copyright infringing material or activity found at the following location(s)
http://mediafire.com/?5g40r8y6vj2r404 (NOTE: not my file? I never had a ‘POPcon.rar’ in my Mediafire space)
http://mediafire.com/?eh2ryw316hmj7ab (< this is my file)
The above copyright work(s) is being made available for copying, through downloading, at the above location without authorization of the copyright owner.3. Statement of authorityThe information in this notice is accurate, and I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of Servolutions GmbH, the owner of the copyright(s) in the work(s) identified above. I have a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized by Servolutions GmbH, its agents, or the law.We hereby give notice of these activities to you and request that you take expeditious action to remove or disable access to the material described above, and thereby prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of this copyright work(s) via your company’s network.We appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Please advise us regarding what actions you take.Yours sincerely,

Claus Christensen, CEOServolutions GmbH

http://www.servolutions.com

Marienhhe 125, D-25451 Quickborn, GermanyTel: +49-40-209338822
Information about the party that filed the report:
Company Name: Servolutions
Contact Address: Contact Name: Claus Christensen
Contact Phone: Contact Email: c.christensen@servolutions.com

Oh and hello Servolutions if you’re googling. You REALLY should take care who you DMCA, it’s a legal document? Making false claims…very naughty.

Mary Had A Laser Bat

Wow – Vi Hart explains the 12-tone series, but also touches on patterns, creativity, philosophy, and creates some very good and funny versions of Mary Had A Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but my favourite was the avant garde piece inspired by Copyright Law (she couldn’t use Schoenberg or Stravinsky because, copyright).

This video is long – but mind blowing, and educational. Really good, and several bits of it I was ‘How does she even THINK that way?’. Genius is an over-applied abstract noun, but I think after watching the video and the musical shapes and re-compositions, you might agree.

Also I think there should be an advanced kid/adult Sesame Street with Vi Hart and others, as an educational TV show…I miss the old OU and Children’s shows, I used to watch those when they were on, but it would combat the dumb, really. But for now, we have her YouTube channel! Yay!


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