Copyright Criminals

So, the main issue in the documentary Copyright Criminals seems to be that artists have a problem with the concept of sampling. Sampling is when a musician uses a piece of another artist’s work in order to create an entirely new song. For example, one of the most famous drum beats of all rap and hip-hop history is actually a sample from a James Brown song called “The Funky Drummer.” Artists like LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys have all used the “Funky Drummer” beat in their music, but because the original drummer, Clyde Stubblefield, was only a session drummer for James Brown, he was never compensated beyond his original pay for recording the song in the first place.

Throughout the documentary, various artists and a lawyer argue that A) sampling is lazy and B) it is copyright infringement. Of course, I tend to disagree. I actually used to think the same thing. But then I realized that not every MC can actually pull off a sampled beat. It’s one thing to take a piece of a song and just play it over and over again; it’s another thing entirely to take a piece of a song and make it your own. I could never do half the stuff most MCs can do with a turntable because I lack the musicality (and the technical training, obviously) to do so. It was then that I began to appreciate sampled music for what it is: an homage to other musicians.

At one point in the documentary, an MC compares using samples as like having famous artists playing in his band. I like the way that sounds, and from now on I’m going to sample that argument.

Okay, yeah, that was kinda cheesy for me to say. But you get the idea.


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