Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who Owns A Sample? Who Owns A Kick Drum? What is IP!

Great Movie. If you have Netflix, go put it in your queue now!

So i watched this movie a few weeks ago and it was very eye opening. I have been an avid P2P file sharer for years since the days of Freenet and the GNU Protocols and never had a problem with copyright infringement with the exception of 1, sharing "Knights of The Old Republic which resulted in a nasty email from Lucasarts (now owned by Disney) and 2, a William S Burroughs eBook that was sitting on my server, not even linked to anywhere or crawled by any search engine. How the estate of Burroughs discovered it is still a mystery to me and the legality of it is very grey since I OWN the book in question!

That time I got an email from the lawyer for his estate asking me to remove it but not after they had complained to my co-lo and shut down my server which was hosting 13 other websites. There went my 100% uptime guarantee...

My point in all of this is when it comes to IP (intellectual property, not the protocol), who actually owns the content? There is a statute on the length of time certains type of IP can be copyrighted until they become public domain. I believe for most mediums it is 75 years but I could be wrong.

So how does this transfer into the DJ/Producer world? For a long time anything under 15 seconds was considered "fair use" and the original composer was not eligible for royalties from any profits made by the artist. Those days seem to be over since the DMCA passed.

I know of 2 friends who have had "stings" on them during a live DJ set where RIAA agents stormed the party and shut everything down to do a full audit on the DJ's MP3 or CD collection to see if they had DRM or were paid for. In the case that they found songs that had been downloaded without pay, the individuals in question were each fined an absurd amount of money....per song! One of them ended up having his laptop seized and fined over $20K.

SideNote --> This is a great YouTube video about Copyright law and its invasiveness into our daily lives.

What I want to know is who owns that snare that I used in a track I wrote? Who should I pay for that 1/2 second vocal snip I manipulated and turned into a snythy stab sound?

My answer : Nobody!

The creative process for production of entertainment media (Audio/Video/Writing) has always been built on the backs of its predecessors. Basically, everyone rips of something in their own creation but that IS the creative process!

Our work is built on what we have loved and wish to incorporate into our own work, but in our own way. This is the reality and will continue to be so.

The RIAA/MPAA need to stop their gestapo tactics and realize that they were the original offenders. How many artists were never paid a penny in royalties due to the structure of contracts. Just look at how Columbia Records handled their non-caucasian artists all the way up until the late 70's.

In closing, I really only have two words to sum up this entire issue. Ironically, it is in reference to my very first post on this blog.  Amen Break.

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