Mentioned this before on Twitter and Facebook, but I’ve been ignoring the sample litigation over here which really is the home of such discussions (for me anyway).
This article on PolicyMic about the recent Beasties win made me kind of annoyed. Really not sure the Beasties suing people for millions of dollars is the epitome of integrity? Or them trying to avoid paying more sample licensing (the TufAmerica Trouble Funk case, which they might win because it’s not 100% than TufAmerica owns those rights)?
Where’s the artistic integrity there? Oh it’s only their integrity that counts? Others may vary according to the size of their legal bill? This along with the sad GoldieBlox case which also cost them a million – for charity, but still – it all seems a little too corporate, however they sugarcoat it hiding behind MCA’s will. It’s just business.
There is also link to mashups since it was a DJ Z-Trip mix that Monster Energy used (and naughtily Monster Energy seemed to pass off a one-word email from him as some sort of magical sample clearance – DOPE! does not mean ‘yeah I cleared all the samples for your campaign for free’ in any language). Another aspect is with most of these videos it’s far from obvious with online promotional/commercial works what the damages (or profits) are too. Certainly millions for an online YouTube video seems really harsh…
I hope the Beasties for instance cleared the Syl Johnson they used, he’s on the warpath at the moment too (ask Markie Mark and others), And the previous time limit over IP has just been taken down on older works…hence the Led Zep vs Spirit ‘Stairway’ case, the Spiderman one…or the Raging Bull case (the one that changed all this, basically the daughter of a playwright inherited his plays after his death, but the studio allegedly took part in Hollywood accounting, and there has been discussion about sequels).
So the Beasties letting everyone know they’ve got money in the bank and are ‘all for artistic integrity’ with one of the most sample-loaded albums in history might actually backfire…because it’s a piece of piss to turn around their arguments over control and respecting the wishes of the artist (aka MCA) against them for their past sampling. I really hope you cleared it all, lads.
And given that apparently new technology means you can now find hidden samples as with the Vogue case I suspect Hank Shocklee and gang as well as De La Soul might be worried…but they haven’t just had a public $1.7 million cash injection, unlike the Beasties.
I just get the feeling that the remaining Beasties are trading on good feelings post the loss of MCA, but they might win the battle but lose the war if they keep getting overly litigious, not only with the public but also in the courts. At the moment they’re mostly seen as ‘little artist protecting their rights against big bad corps’ but a few nasty losses against other smaller artists not getting their slice might put paid to that. Hence the title – those who sample shouldn’t throw stones, especially in the glasshouses of the courts (and more importantly, the courts of public opinion).