Came across a very informative post about modern copyright problems in the music arena today at Geek News Central. Here’s why I like:
The justification for copyright as it applies to music is that it encourages innovation. The argument goes that if people have protection for their creation then they can gain the financial benefit of that creation and are therefore encouraged to produce. This is only accurate to a point. While the recording industry tries to gloss over it, copyright is not binary (present or absent) there is a scale of control. While moderate controls can promote innovation, extreme controls can actually stifle it. If the laws of today were in place in the 80‚Äôs then the Hip-Hop genre would not exist. Regardless of whether that appeals to you or not, it would definitely make the music industry smaller than it is today.
The question I want answered, is this: If a ‘backyard sampler’ like Girl Talk sits down to explain his right to ‘creative expression’ and ‘innovation’ to a Judge, who but RIAA lawyers would represent the other side of the table. The logical perspective of economic language will sadly always truimph over weak appeals to ‘cultural enrichment’ or creative genre exploration. ‘Financial protection’ will trumps the Girl talk.
What if Girl Talk Was Illegal?
Far in the future, if sampling and major label infringement becomes a more serious crime, I hope at least the underground samplers (like the 80 year old Girl Talk dude) at least have the wherewithal to adjust their moniker to include reference to their a certain Swiss Bank account number to which devoted fans could deposit ca$holas. At least they’ll get their money.
The Geek news article also linked to a great video which provided a case study on the issue, featuring a drum loop and its use in hip hop (18min.):