Forget Patent Trolls, Now There Are Sample Trolls

from the feeding-off-of-creativity dept

David Levine points us to Tim Wu's latest article at Slate about the rise of what he calls "sample trolls," who are similar to patent trolls, but focus on suing anyone who samples music. The interesting thing here is that the companies (or individuals) doing this often obtain the rights to the various songs under very questionable means. In at least one case, it sounds like the most well known guy doing this, under the name of Bridgetport Music, simply forged George Clinton's name to assign himself the rights to a lot of his music (which was then sampled quite a lot by hip hop artists). Unfortunately, Bridgeport (who just last week sued Jay-Z) has won some court cases, including one in the 6th Circuit that claimed that any sampling without a license was illegal. That seems to (again) be a stretch of the purpose of fair use, and the reasoning behind copyright. Wu makes the case that these sample trolls do nothing to encourage creativity and the production of new content, and a great deal to hinder it and make it more expensive. A few years ago, we looked at the music industry in Jamaica, where the idea of sampling wasn't just common, it is encouraged and embraced as a core part of the music industry, and it's only resulted in more creative output, as musicians take the different pieces that others have used and try to outdo each other in making something better out of it. Yet, if that were happening in the US, there would be lawsuits involving companies like Bridgeport Music, who do nothing to encourage creativity, and a lot less music. How is that considered in line with the purpose of intellectual property as an incentive to create new content?

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Jones, 17 Nov 2006 @ 9:59pm

    Re:

    Yeah, well tell that to the hordes of musicians, rappers, rockers and others who spend days and sometimes weeks laboring over sample laden tracks to make some of the most dynamic and fresh music on the market (US OR Otherwise). Tell them that their work is uncreative and lacking of musicality.

    What is music, if nothing more than rhythm, melody and harmony. The foundations of which you must have whether you sample or play it. Sampling is just another tool in the box of the musician who uses it. I have witnessed many who thought that sampling and creating something worthwhile from it was easy and uninspired and lacking of creativity fall way short once they realize that it takes very good talent to hear something from another body of work, oft times not anyway resembling the new creation that it becomes after being sampled, and to then take that and create something entirely different, fresh and new. Sampling is here to stay. Lawsuits will only serve to slow the process. But trust me, its here to stay.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.