Copyright infringement


Thanks for that, Joan. It clearly shows WHERE the funk came from and where it did NOT come from.


I think music is ALWAYS based on samples other people have made. Any music at any historical period. And not just music for that matter. This is what the progress of humanity is based on. No matter how unexpected is the material some people come up with, it’s always based on something else. Now, just the fact that Britney Spears doesn’t infringe anyone’s copyright doesn’t make her music new and unique. The same goes for countless rubbish you get to hear on TV or radio daily in any style and under any sauce.

My main intention for this topic was to draw attention to the fact that the present copyright laws IMO narrow artistic freedom & therefore are too restrictive.

I guess, there is general consent on here that the work of an artist should be protected against exploitation & that he should get a fair amount of royalties in case someone wants to make money with his work.
Yet the present copyright law rather seems to give major companies monopolistic power.

Once again Id like to refer to that example given by Negativland, "Imagine how much critical satire would get made if you were required to get prior permission from the subject of your satire?" So any form of sociocultural comment (e.g. regarding a strange statement by a politician on TV) would be ruled out by law, if you intended to use that material for a song. The output of a society that is frozen in pictures, audio files, videos, online documents etc. should circulate and be available for reuse. In my opinion there should be more material in the public domain cos it belongs there! Im not so much interested in discussing the simple theft of loops, sounds, grooves that are used in other songs. This is rather the plagiarism part of the discussion. Theres no disagreement about that, I think. This is what I would simply call "shop-lifting". Its not OK and not very creative.


If today’s copyright law existed say in the 18th century, there probably wouldn’t be Bach’s organ transcriptions of Vivaldi’s ( and others’) works. Poor old man wouldn’t have the money to pay the famous Italian for copyright clearance. We wouldn’t have works of other composers of the time that didn’t vanish only because Bach literally rescued them by copying and selling. His church music. What would happen to Bach’s preludes and fugues elaborating on Luther’s hymns should they have been copyrighted? Would Luther ever be able to do this at all, considering those hymns were based on the German folk songs of the time, etc,etc,etc.

I can 100% subscribe to that!!


I agree with this at a humanitarian level. How else does society educate itself and improve upon concepts to further technology and culture?

There’s a difference between ‘basing something on a sample’ - and ‘using a sample,’ however.

Progressing, learning, the furthering of new musical ideas toward creating new music - to outright ripping/sampling of intellectual property to create something for one’s personal gain removes integrity from not only the piece, but from society as well.

In part or in whole, there are reasons why society doesn’t condone plagiarism - from a singular idea to a mosaic of ideas.

Original artists work hard and their works shouldn’t be bitten off. Collaborative works are okay. Stealing someone’s work isn’t.

Hi Steve,

covering a song - and yes, provided, the royalties were paid (I`ll better repeat that in every posting :smiley: ), is not necessarily a bad thing. It might even draw more attention to the original work, and in those 48 yrs. of being a music consumer, I only recall a few songs which could hold a candle to the original.


PS: you like smilies, huh? Yeah, that figures…

I swear, the whole forum would love to witness that! Please, send photos when you`re done!

Please speak for yourself. :open_mouth: I do not wish to witness such a thing. :cry:

I apologize!

I need to think this through… but my initial reaction is that using snippets should be legal if they don’t establish the fundmental character of a work… which of course is open to interpretation. In any case, a person should always get the originator’s permission even if it’s legal, out of courtesy

Print publications are allowed to quote other writers, as long as attribution is provided (I think there is a word limit, too). Why not the same with music? I “steal” pieces of lyrics and melody quite often and regard it as “homage”

I think a cover song is a homage, but using actual pieces of other people music in one’s own without permission or royalty payments I think is wrong. When U2 breaks into a small piece of “Ruby Tuesday” lyrics during their live performance of “Bad” in Rattle and Hum I consider that 100% homage. Does anyone know if a check really went out to the Stones for that? Maybe, but somehow I doubt it. How can one even calculate the “value” of such a small piece of cover lyrics in a live set?? But why should something like that, so small and just a homage, require payment anyhow?

But using actual pieces of music, like Vanilla Ice did and a number of other famous musicians throughout modern music times, comes off to me like a plain rip off. As I mentioned earlier, since this topic is about sampling in general, I think it really depends on the nature of what one is sampling. If you’re sampling something like a phrase from a movie or political speech I can’t see how it’s a humongous deal. Of course, the political speech would be considered public domain material, just as is the works of many dead artists be it painters, musicians, etc. And why is it ok to paste a dead painters masterpiece on one’s album cover but not something from a living artist? Well the answer is simple - money. A dead painter from 1742 is not making any money off their surviving paintings but a modern day artist may be. But of course, if another painter copied an old masterpiece to create some derivative it can still be looking at as a ripoff by many, though it would not be considered illegal.

The Warhol reference earlier made a very good point. What I could never come to grasps with is certain types of photographers making a career off their photos. While I do understand the effort required to make an astonishing photo, I often can’t help but think, “Well… this is a mountain with fog… so you photographed it under good conditions so what?” Or, “So this is an old beat down house under interesting natural lighting” - being it’s not like they created the subjects they are photographing.

But, in retrospect to that mentality, and I often challenge my own thinking to keep an open mind, I don’t create every single sound that makes my music!! I don’t make ALL the patches in each synth, I actually make very few. I tweak a lot sure, but I also didn’t write the software synths I am using. I surely didn’t build my 6, 7, and 8-string guitars nor the pickups or amps!

So it’s really all subjective the term of “originality”.


I respect that position. But if it’s not a direct sample, but just a lick, or a melodic phrase, or even a short lyrical quotation, am I really harming the source author? Unless I’m wrong, the guideline for print publication is that at least every 7th line must differ from any possible source material. It’s hard to plagaize a source when every 7th line has to be altered! Likewise, it’s hard to do real economic harm to a songwriter if you lift a brief line
once in awhile.

Wrong, sir! If youd "incorporated" parts of another painters work, you didn`t steal it - no, you “got inspired”, you made “a reference” to his work - the unwritten laws of the visual arts…
Different economic interests allow different treatments & it appears, different tolerance.

If Dali`s lobster telephone was available in digital form and it could be reproduced & distributed just like MP3s (= mass production), believe me, the situation in the visual art world would dramatically change.

(*)According to the U.S. copyright law the work is protected up to 70 yrs. after the author`s death:

Ҥ 302. Duration of copyright: Works created on or after January 1, 19784
(a) In General. — Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections, endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death.

(b) Joint Works. — In the case of a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70 years after such last surviving author’s death.

© Anonymous Works, Pseudonymous Works, and Works Made for Hire. — In the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. If, before the end of such term, the identity of one or more of the authors of an anonymous or pseudonymous work is revealed in the records of a registration made for that work under subsections (a) or (d) of section 408, or in the records provided by this subsection, the copyright in the work endures for the term specified by subsection (a) or (b), based on the life of the author or authors whose identity has been revealed. Any person having an interest in the copyright in an anonymous or pseudonymous work may at any time record, in records to be maintained by the Copyright Office for that purpose, a statement identifying one or more authors of the work; the statement shall also identify the person filing it, the nature of that person’s interest, the source of the information recorded, and the particular work affected, and shall comply in form and content with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation.”

By the way, the German copyright law (Urheberrechtsgesetz) contains the same periods as the U.S. law.

Excellent point, dude! Imagine the authors of software synth bundles claimed copyrights for their sound archives, then the “Made with Cubase” section could immediately be closed… :smiley:

Excellent point, dude! Imagine the authors of software synth bundles claimed copyrights for their sound archives, then the “Made with Cubase” section could immediately be closed… :smiley:[/quote]

This has nothing to do with copyright. You copyright compositions ,not sounds.

Hiya Joan. I’ve read those copyright sections before, so I was aware of the length of protection. But even though a work might be protected, if there’s no living decedent in charge of the estate, or if no one has bought the rights to the work in particular, then who is going to challenge misuse of a work and see it taken to court? I can’t see the State or any form of Government taking up charges against someone using a dead author, musician, painter’s (etc) material. Even trademarks have to be strongly defended by their owners themselves lest they actually stand the risk of losing their trademark. This is why we see so many ridiculous cease and desist letters being sent out with no viable cause.


Thanks, I know that. I just took that as a scenario (“Imagine…”) in support of Revs statement to what great extent we depend on other peoples inventions/achievements in order to be able to be “creative”.

Again here are the main musical protagonists of this thread Negativland performing an alltime classic

“My Favourite Things”

(original music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, published 1959)

Is this a plain theft of the original?
My answer is No, the original material has been reused to create something completely new.

Should they ask for permission to use it?
Again No, though at least the authors should be informed about their stuff being used
(according to the license propositions made by Creative Commons).

Should they pay roalties?
In this case, definetely Not.

Using snippets? In the example above they have used tons of snippets, literally the whole song, but they have changed meanings of the lyrics (& also the musical composition as a result of the collage technique) in a drastic way. Would you say, this tune is illegal?

Did the group Negativeland pay for the recording time of the material they used? Did they pay the musicians that recorded it, the singers? Did they obtain permission from the people who did? Do they own publishing rights on the song they cut up? Why should they be free to use another’s recorded work to create their own (unless they bought a sample library that was cleared and they had agreed to the EULA)?

If you take the hubcap off a car you don’t own and use it to create a sculpture, well, you haven’t stolen the CAR-just a PIECE of it…still, it’s stealing. You didn’t knock on someone’s door and say “may I appropriate your hubcap for my art, please?” thereby giving them a choice whether they wish to contribute to your artistic endeavors-or-perhaps they might want…umm…MONEY!! for the hubcap. Since they bought the car and all. Even though you wouldn’t really be using it AS a hubcap, still the owners might look askance at contributing it gratis.