Monday, March 20, 2006

"it's unbelievable..."


This is a huge settlement, both in financial terms and in terms of its impact on future litigation. Not only did Bridgeport win a high-profile, lucrative sampling case in a what has become murky territory for the law, but they actually got the album pulled from shelves and the radio.

A number of things entertain me about this. Where the RIAA is insanely vigilant against piracy, they regularly appear on record and in amicus briefs in opposition to restrictive sampling law. And now we see why. I don't know Ready to Die's current sales volume, but imagine if this happened to the Blueprint or College Dropout. Pulled off the shelves and ITunes for sampling violation? Damn. Of course, it wouldn't happen to those artists because the modern-day sample climate in mainstream hiphop is incredibly paranoid, especially since the 2004 ruling I linked to above, but breakout hits from lesser-known (and less cautious) labels often emerge from the underground, and those're the people who don't have the budget to clear the samples, but could be seriously exposed in a situation like this.

I really want to know how they made this case, considering that the samples would be pretty hard to recognize and identify for your average jury. Maybe Bridgeport music hired Questlove as a jury consultant.

Anyway, this quote piqued my interest (from the Tennessean) .

"We're glad the jury listened very closely to the evidence and found appropriately for Westbound and Bridgeport."

I'm trying to imagine prosecution: "So, here, you can clearly hear a half-second of the guitar lick, right before Biggie says 'I put the 12 gauge to your brain/Make your shit splatter.' Listen very closely to this evidence."

But of course, there was probably never any contention over whether the sample was used, but rather whether the sample falls under fair use guidelines. I think it does, but obviously the jury was following the 2004 ruling that even one second of recorded material, regardless of use, should be actionable. For what it's worth, there's no question in my mind that the fair use doctrine applies here. After all, we're not talking about "Ice, Ice Baby."

P.S. I'd be remiss if I didn't link to Jesse Kriss's History of Sampling 1.2, a graphic representation of sampling's history. It requires some serious Javascript but it is awesome.

1 comment:

zach said...

Hey, Rob Van Winkle swears that "Ice Ice Baby" was different from "Under Pressure." duh duh duh duhduh duh duh [- duh] duh duh duh duhduh duh duh versus no bracketed phrase. And you know a man who falsified claims that he grew up in Miami and went to high school with Luke Cambell from 2 Live Crew is trustworthy.