From “homage” to “infringement”
I’m not so doctrinaire: Sometimes a press release is actually worth posting:
For more than thirty years, as hip-hop evolved from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion dollar industry, hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. But when lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.”
COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS, a new film by Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod, will air on the PBS series Independent Lens January 19 (check local listings).
COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS showcases many of hip-hop’s founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul and Digital Underground, along with emerging artists such as audiovisual remixers Eclectic Method. It also provides an in-depth look at artists who have been sampled, such as Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s drummer and the world’s most sampled musician), as well as commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton.
Computers, mobile phones, and other interactive technologies are changing our relationship with media, blurring the line between producer and consumer, and radically changing what it means to be creative. As artists find ever more inventive ways to insert old influences into new material, the film asks a critical question: can anyone really own a sound?
The trailer’s here. Why, if I had a TV, I just might watch this!
What can I tell you? These guys are playing my song.
So to speak.