Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Jury Sides With Sample Troll Who Probably Doesn't Even Own Rights To Song In Question

from the lovely dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    chris (profile), Feb 16th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    if it wasn't for george clinton

    dr. dre and snoop dog would have to write their own beats.
    it makes sense that clinton is huge into people sampling his music...pretty much all west coast style "gangsta rap" is based on old parlament/funkadelic samples.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dhaval Doshi, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 9:08am

    This is completely Bizzare!

    The idea of sampling is the easiest and most practical way to promote (paid) music. If the rights for sampling are relinquished, it's all the more cumbersome/costlier for the music copyrights owner to promote his music and actually allow them to sell it. With revolutionary technology that allows individuals to broadcast through podcasts; this combined with the growing popularity of podcast listeners and a revenue generating model for podcasters (through advertising). Why can't music companies encourage podcasters to allow this sampling!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Robert, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 9:10am

    I believe that the record company let him win. They may have lost the case, but they won the precedence. It wouldn't be good to set a precedence against the other cases that you are carrying on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 9:58am

    Thankyou for the muses

    The Bridgeport execs really need to spend some time on the inside of a jail cell for all this crap, although in this case you're quite right that it might benefit UMG to be on the receiving end for once (I don't honestly think they'll change their ways but we can but hope)

    The discussion is really interesting when George and Hank Shockley from Public Enemy start discussing the relative worth of each second of sampling "is this sound more expensive than this sound" - you start to get some idea how messed up music is getting

    Theres some extremely dangerous precedents coming out of the courts recently re sampling by the sounds of it (I hadn't heard the half of this) and it bears watching even closer in future

    Thanks either way for the perfect 40min end to the week ;0)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Ross, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:11am

    I am sort of torn

    I am sort of torn... one the one hand Universal sort of deserves some punishment. Not for this, but just in general. So I like to see them on the hook just for past discretions. However its clearly wrong on many levels -- they may or may not own the music to begin with, and the argument over fair use.

    Maybe this case is like the Oscars? Its not the best performance of the year but we've been snubbing you in the past and you deserve recognition so we give you the award?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    God, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 11:07am


    The group in question does not deserve to have their album released because R&B and Hip Hop is a sinful genre. They should make some good Christian music and refrain from ebonics and they may have a chance at success.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Justin, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    So... How's that whole racism thing going for you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Neonghost, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 11:58am

    "yippee yay, yippee yo"

    I'm pretty sure it was yippee yo, yippee ya.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    The infamous Joe, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    Drip, drip, drip.

    He's not a racist, he's a troll. No self-respecting christian would post under the name of God.

    #6 is what happens when someone doesn't pay attention to their child-- that child grows up (if you can call it that) and begs for attention as a forum troll. It's a sad tale, but a very common one.

    The best way to make them go away is to ignore them, as they are only seeking attention, they'll wander away if not given any.

    "Hug a child, kill a troll."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    old kid from detroit, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:37pm

    check your facts, please.

    This is a pretty clear case of why you need to do your own fact checking.

    Bridgeport music is a) legit, b) has a rightful claim to the materials in question, and c) you slandered them last year by claiming they forged George Clinton's name.

    Seriously. Not only did I know George Clinton and the founder of BP, I am very familiar with the relevant history, and you got this one DEAD WRONG.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    SATAN, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:21pm

    fucked up

    George should sue the bastards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:53am

    Re: check your facts, please.

    So we should ignore George standing up on stage and saying "they just signed my name" and that they know they can get away with it because targeted artists don't have enough money to go to court has no bearing?

    Its not slander if you report what a nother person says

    Maybe George is lying but for some crazy reason I would trust him more than any company

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    jimmmy ginn, Apr 11th, 2007 @ 2:31pm

    Bridgeport Music

    I know Bridgeport well, and Univerisal, the wrost by far is Bridgeport and their adminstorJane Peterer known as JPMC Music, Jane has and I am sure with Armen knowelagle changed at less the work of mine that was sampled, various document ( court)even using a wrong name Rolling With Kid n Play" and about 30 more titles all defended by BMI.Hopefuly Congress will deal with BMI and their self serving rule book.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    senselocke, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:55am

    Boladian is a fraud

    Re: Re: check your facts please

    Actually, in 2005 Clinton won control of his music back, and it was proven that Boladian, aka Bridgeport, HAD forged Clinton's signature. It's a sham of a corporation, at it's very best. So Bridgeport is 1) not legit, 2) has no legal claim to Clinton's (and most others') music whatsoever, and 3) I guess the appellate court "slandered" their name when they found in favor of Clinton and against Bridgeport.

    The company's a sham. How it's still in business is beyond me. They're like the Jack Thompson of the music world, only marginally successful. Like a zit on top of a hemorrhoid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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