from the copyright-as-censorship dept
Yesterday we wrote about rapper Lord Finesse suing fellow rapper Mac Miller because Miller released a free song that used the same beat that Finesse used (which was itself based on a sample from jazz musician Oscar Peterson). Miller, of course, has become a phenom, being the first indie artist to top the charts with a new release in over a decade. The song in question, Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza, wasn’t on Miller’s album, but was just released for free online, and uses the same beat from Finesse’s 90’s era hit Hip 2 Da Game. And now Finesse is suing for $10 million.
In our post on the subject, we pointed to a song that Dan Bull put together, using the same beat, but as commentary/parody of this legal fight. The song highlights how hip-hop has a long history of building on the works of others, and does a nice job laying out the history with Oscar Peterson’s sample being used first. And… this morning Dan Bull logged into his YouTube account to discover that Finesse’s lawyers had issued a takedown on his song.
This is a clear abuse of copyright law to stifle criticism of his lawsuit. First of all, it’s not at all difficult to find a lot
of other songs that use the same beat with people rapping their own lyrics over them… and they all have been left up (and have been up for a while). Here
are just a couple
examples — both of which have been up for over a year. And, oh yeah, even Mac Miller’s own version
is still up on YouTube. So basically, either Finesse and his lawyers just so happened
to take down the one
video that is critical of the lawsuit… or they’re using copyright to stifle criticism and free speech.
Furthermore, it seems like there’s as pretty strong argument for fair use (or fair dealing in the UK) for Dan’s video. It’s clearly using the music to comment on the lawsuit and the fact that it involves this beat. It’s difficult to discuss the nature of the beat without actually being able to use the beat, as Dan did. In many ways this seems like a classic case of what fair use/fair dealing was designed for. The beat is integral to the criticism and commentary that is the whole point of the song, and is used out of necessity.
Of course, even more amusing is that the entire point of Bull’s song was to tell Finesse just how bad legal action like his lawsuit against Miller really looks — and instead of getting the message, it appears that Finesse and his lawyers want to look even worse, using the same sort of “copyright as censorship” effort that made Bull call them out in the first place.
Filed Under: criticism, dan bull, fair dealing, fair use, hip hop, lord finesse, mac miller, parody