Late last year, we wrote up a story about Bridgeport Music, a company described as a sample troll. The company (or, really, the guy behind the company) has been "acquiring" the rights to various songs -- and then suing anyone who dares to sample the song, no matter how minor the sample. It would seem that fair use rules should allow basic sampling without a problem -- but unfortunately courts haven't always agreed. The latest was pointed out to us by Avatar28, and involves Bridgeport Music's latest case, where a jury has sided with Bridgeport, claiming that a song by the group Public Announcement that uses a 5 second sample of an old George Clinton song with the word "dog" used near "yippee yay, yippee yo" is copyright infringement. Universal Music published the newer song and is now on the hook for $111,000 -- and could face a ban on the sale of Public Announcement's album. While there's some irony in seeing Universal Music Group (which has been perhaps the worst of the big record labels in abusing copyright laws to squeeze money out of everyone), this is one case they deserved to win -- for a variety of reasons. First off, using just a quick sample should be fair use. There's simply no reason that it's not. Second, as we noted the last time we wrote about Bridgeport Music, George Clinton insists that Bridgeport has no right to his music, and says that the guy who runs the company forged documents to claim control over his music. Clinton is actually a big fan of bands (especially up and coming bands) sampling his content. You can see a fascinating video interview of Clinton explaining all this (video link) including how Bridgeport has no real right to his music, but also how sampling is wonderful for musicians -- and how happy he is to hear others sample his songs.
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