Sony Issues Takedown Of Mashup Album That Did Reinterpretation Using Original (Non-Sony) Samples
from the fair-use-for-me-and-not-for-thee dept
Ah, Sony Music. A label called Gummy Soul and a musician named Amerigo Gazaway released a 55-minute mashup last year called: Bizarre Tribe: “Quest to the Pharcyde.” As I understand it, the concept was to take a bunch of the original jazz, soul and funk samples that the band A Tribe Called Quest later used to make its music, and to create reinterpretations of Tribe’s music. It’s kind of a cool idea, when you think about it: to take the original sounds that inspired works that you like and rework them. However, Sony Music apparently had problems with this. Despite the fact that the 55-minute “album” only actually samples less than 3 minutes of work from A Tribe Called Quest, and was released for free (rather than for sale), Sony apparently decided that this must be infringing and issued a takedown.
Gummy Soul did take down the work, but also wrote quite the open letter (with redactions that seem completely pointless), quoting what appears to be Sony Pictures’ fair use claims when it was recently sued by the estate of William Faulkner, to point out how odd it is that Sony defends fair use in such cases, but cracks down in others (though, to be fair, Sony Music and Sony Pictures are fairly separate entities).
To be clear, the re-orchestrated instrumentals on Bizarre Tribe were sourced from the original jazz, soul, and funk recordings SAMPLED by [redacted], allowing Amerigo to create his own, distinct production within a similar framework. Given the brief and limited use of [redacted] material on Bizarre Tribe (around 2 minutes of material out of a 55 minute album), and the method by which our reinterpretations are created, it is clear that Amerigo’s effort is protected under the fair use exception of copyright infringement.
We would further add that the presence of documentary style sound-bites, interviews, and news clips included on Bizarre Tribe to provide a narrative of the group’s history and commentary on their work only further protects us under the fair use exception, undermindes your claim against us, and provides a clearer distinction as to the uniqueness of what we do at Gummy Soul. As you know, [redacted] is no stranger to the fair use exception as you have relied on it many times yourselves.
The whole thing seems pretty silly, but right out of today’s RIAA playbook: assume infringing first, deal with any fallout later.