Copyright infringement

G`day everybody,

Id like to draw your attention to the contemporary copyright situation were in.
The music that I make consists to a great extend of “found material”, means audio samples drawn (should I say “stolen”?) from various sources such as TV, radio, the web, cassette tapes, records etc.

I don`t create my own lyrics because I have no story to tell.

Using existing material has an old tradition in the visual arts:

I have serious doubts, whether Andy Warhol ever paid a single cent to Mao for using his portrait. I assume, neither did he pay Walt Disney for using a picture of Mickey Mouse nor to Campbell for using a portrait of their tomato soup can.
In fact copying has gone on in art and music throughout the ages, from “quoting” in classical music compostions, to homage and parody.

Now, if I want to use fragments of existing audio material in order to use it in a different context, say the refrain of Harry Belafontes "Island in the Sun" with a heavy thunderstorm in the back or whatever, I have to ask for permission & eventually have to pay a clearance fee. Just recently I made an enquiry for permission to use a sermon by Mrs. Kathryn Kuhlmann, a famous U.S. evangelist who died in the mid 70s. To be frank, I dont expect to be granted that permission by her estate.

So there`s almost no way for me to publish my music anywhere on the web without committing a crime :unamused: :

“Consider the starkly stupid proposition that collage has now become illegal in music unless the artist can afford to pay for each and every fragment he or she might want to use, as well as gain permission from each and every owner.” (Negativland)

In other words, certain forms of artistic expression are in the process of extinction due to the fact that an industry is totally in control of all the material.

Why can’t everyone just follow the rules and do it the legal way?
Again this is Negativland :

"Negativland remains on the shady side of existing law because to follow it would put us out of business. Here is a personal example of how copyright law actually serves to prevent a wholly appropriate creative process which inevitably emerged out of our reproducing technologies.

In order to appropriate or sample even a few seconds of almost anything out there, you are supposed to do two things: get permission and pay clearance fees. The permission aspect becomes an unavoidable roadblock to anyone who may intend to use the material in a context unflattering to the performer or work involved. This may happen to be exactly what we want to do. Dead end. Imagine how much critical satire would get made if you were required to get prior permission from the subject of your satire? The payment aspect is an even greater obstacle to use. Negativland is a small group of people dedicated to maintaining our critical stance by staying out of the corporate mainstream. We create and manufacture our own work, on our own label, on our own meager incomes and borrowed money. Our work is typically packed with found elements, brief fragments recorded from all media. This goes way beyond one or two, or ten or twenty elements. We can use a hundred different elements on a single record. Each of these audio fragments has a different owner and each of these owners must be located. This is usually impossible because the fragmentary nature of our long-ago random capture from radio or TV does not include the owner’s name and address. If findable, each one of these owners, assuming they each agree with our usage, must be paid a fee which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars each. Clearance fees are set, of course, for the lucrative inter-corporate trade. Even if we were somehow able to afford that, there are the endless frustrations involved in just trying to get lethargic and unmotivated bureaucracies to get back to you. Thus, both our budget and our release schedule would be completely out of our own hands. Releases can be delayed literally for years. As tiny independents, depending on only one release at a time, we can’t proceed under those conditions. In effect, any attempt to be legal would shut us down.

The question we want you to consider is this: Should those who might be borrowed from have an absolute right to prevent any such future reuses of their properties, even when the reuse is obviously part of a new and unique work? Do we want to actually put all forms of free reuse under the heading of “theft” and criminalize a valuable art form such as collage? – A form which may involve controversial social/cultural references and cannot operate true to its vision when permission is required. Present copyright prohibitions appear unable to appreciate the flow of the art forest because they are forever fixated on the money trees."(

It should also be mentioned that all this creative re-use of material rarely if ever puts new work in economic competition with its sources.

Finally it ought to be clear that the work of an author should be fully protected against any form of copying that intends to make money with other people`s intellectual properties (such as bootlegs).

There are various propositions for an alternative copyright law, especially the <FAIR USE> concept or <Creative Commons>

Just a little snack for thought…

Thanks for your attention!


How can it be a new and unique work when it’s borrowed from someone else :question:

and if it is borrowed from someone else then it should be with the permission of the creator of the sample as with out the creator there would be no creation !

IMO its a very sad time where music is based on samples that other people have made and if these samples are going to be used commercially then the original creator should have a say and at least royalties IF they agree to the use of .

Well, if you look at it from one approach… how many people usually get sued for using small samples of something? I’m sure you’re aware that there are, for example, thousands upon thousands of songs that use audio samples from movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of the time those samples were never cleared nor paid for. I use a movie sample in one of my songs and haven’t been sued. If they ever did sue I still don’t think they’d win cause I believe my use would be found to be under “Fair Use” since the song is basically a political statement or a counter argument to the statements made in the clip. That falls under fair use. But hell, they wouldn’t make any money off us anyway cause we’re not making any money! lol. But there are some big name bands that have clearly stated in interviews that they never paid for the samples.

I think it comes down to application though. An audio sample from a movie put into a song is NOT going to take away any profits from the movie whatsoever. Using an actual piece of someone else’s music is a different story because it’s within the exact same field of work. I don’t think using that sermon you mentioned would really get you into hot water, but yes, the possibility is always there. It’s all up to you whether or not to take the risk. One thing I would advise though, if you do use uncleared material you better keep it short! If you have something running a minute long for example you greatly increase your chances of someone wanting to take action. - I am NOT referring to the nonsense myth that you can freely use up to 30 seconds of audio. That is pure BS and should never be listened to. ANY piece no matter than length can be considered infringement. What I’m talking about is a quick short snippet is less likely to make the owner jump to action as opposed to playing a full minute of the material.


So you freely admit to copyright infringment? Explains a lot.

Who let the trolls out!?? WHooP WhoOp wHooP! Who let the trolls out!??


And you think that is funny, why ?

Let`s take 2 examples of sampled /re-used material:

  1. “Regiment” by Byrne/Eno (released in 1981).

This song features Dunya Yusin, a Lebanese mountain singer.
The recording of her voice originates from “The Human Voice in the World of Islam” (Tangent Records TGS131).
The music has been composed around it.
Regardless, if you like it or not, I`d say, this is a completely new song.

  1. “The Greatest Taste Around” by Negativland

Now, should Negativland pay roaylties to the producers of those Pepsi-Commercials?
They put this into a completely new & unique context.
Again, like it or not, it`s a totally different piece of art.

As to my knowledge, Byrne & Eno have paid royalties for using Dusin`s voice.

Our first release was more an underground style of music, not something that ever makes anyone rich - even the top bands in the genre. Our upcoming release though is a lot more diverse so would likely gain a larger audience. We didn’t make zero dollars, but seriously, only just under $2000 since it’s been out.


I agree a 100%.

I agree also. If one makes money with someone else’s work, that original creator deserves a portion of the profit (if they choose). That said, even if no profit is made, the new creation is infringement if it takes profit from the original creator (like a cover song).
OBTW, I don’t mean legal definitions here, just my opinion.

Sounds like they “borrowed” a lot of bassline from Herp Alpert’s 1979 tune, “Rise” too. (I wonder if Byrne & Eno paid for that too?)

Oh well, there may have been 1000s of those basslines around at that time. I doubt, that Eno would have needed to steal from outside sources to get a litte funky “doop-doop-doop” on that song. No big thing to my mind.

This is going on globally (I borrow a few choice phrases here and there too :smiley: ). Eno and Byrne will pay, I’d almost guarantee that 100%. Your indie dudes tend not to til there’s some success, then along come the lawyers. Check this out:
Dunno where the Prodigy come into all this actually, as it was the tech whizz in the band, Liam Howlett that sampled all the stuff and sculpted it into a classic track. Even more amazing is that this guy, Jim Pavloff, recreated exactly what Howlett did :open_mouth:

Dunno if any money changed hands but the Prodigy defintely gave credit for the samples on the album.
What is important is that these samples were mangled, adapted, sculpted, whatever you wanna call em, into something new and, in some instances, completely unrecognisable :sunglasses:

see the problem is, that sermon is about 12 min. long & I want to use app. 4 min. of it.
In my personal opinion an evangelist who is speaking to an audience and offers audio material on the web ought to be in the public domain though I respect the legal situation.

Correct! It`s not all about the length but also the recognition value of the sample.

Not bad! Thanks for sharing!
I remember, I recognized a sample (“heyheyhey!”) from the Art Of Noise on The Prodigy`s “Firestarter”.

Indeed, a good example for turning existing material into something new & unique.


Your discounting of the bassline reveals a somewhat laissez-faire outlook on music - to come up with an original bassline isn’t as easy to come by as you would so indicate. The easy access of audio clips or to create facsimiles of artists’ works in a pre-fab music world makes it too easy to rip off original musical ideas… if not the actual audio file itself and calling it ‘your own.’ This modern, high-tech world has made this possible with music ‘creativity.’

While inspiration (and originality) can arrive from an assortment of sources (and levels), I can see and agree with you to a certain point, but here’s where I’ll draw a distinctive line for the point I’m trying to make: ‘The feel’ or ‘groove’ of a tune is just as important, if not MORE important to the creation of a ‘secondary original’ piece.

Without that certain flavor of the bass as an ingredient - as a composition, it’s like taking a fast food restaurant item and calling it ‘unique’ cuisine under the premise of having come from a five star restaurant. Take the meat of the bassline out of the Eno piece and that’s pretty much what I think of that particular Eno piece: fast food, the lettuce and tomatoe of the ripped vocals, as well.

The opinion that Eno would never have needed to steal from an outside source, I don’t buy that entirely. I have no doubt that his inspiration did, in fact, come from some outside source. It had to come from somewhere. Being that funky has never been ENO’s specialty. It’s not unlike jazz, Rock n’ Roll, Blues, blues phenomena from back in the day, ideas/inspiration come from other sources, being regurgitated and with opportunistic artists (and business people) who will capitalize on it and call it their own.

BTW, the bassline in the ENO piece @ around 0:19 has a MIDI glitch in it and doesn’t sound naturally played. I know, because I’ve generated enough bass lines which had the same glitches in order to recognize them.

The beat, IMO, sounds kinda sampled as well.

A MIDI glitch in a recording that was done around 1979/80…wonders never cease…

Besides Byrne & Eno the following musicians are involved in the song:
Chris Frantz (Talking Heads): drums,
David van Tieghem, a composer, percussionist & sound designer from NYC who has released a couple of solo albums: drums, percussion
Busta Jones (a bass guitarist from Memphis/Tenn.) : bass

To cut things short: it seems obvious that neither drums nor bass have been sampled.


Say, is there any truth to the rumour that Prince wants to relaunch his career & start out with a cover song of “Something About You”? :astonished:

Now that’s funny. Zap, I DO like your song, but still … :laughing: !!!

I don’t mind if people use samples in small doses, but to base a whole song off someone’s material is just wrong and taking the easy way out. Vanilla Ice, anyone ?