February 27, 2006 4:00 AM PST

'Copyright criminals' look to remix the noise--legally

(continued from previous page)

To artists like Jeremy Rosier and Tre Peterson, the contest has provided an opportunity to stretch their remixing legs while also taking advantage of sampling rights granted them under the Creative Commons licenses that governs the contest's source material.

"The whole thing about sampling being more creative than criminal, I definitely agree with that," said Rosier, a 32-year-old musician from Trowbridge, England. "I hate the paranoia that goes with using samples sometimes....The right to sample is important, as long as it's not just robbing someone of a well-written tune."

Listen up

A second track from the Copyright Criminals Contest. This one was created by Jerry Rosier.
Listen now... (3MB mp3)

And Rosier must be doing something right. His submission, "Both Sides," a catchy track featuring samples from interviews of producer Hank Shocklee and DJ Qbert, is one of the highest-rated entrants in the contest so far.

At the same time, Peterson, a 29-year-old Atlanta musician, said that the Copyright Criminals contest appealed to him because much of his work is rooted in hip-hop.

"The core of hip-hop originated through using other sounds," said Peterson. "It just seems like art is supposed to be, to a certain extent, of a free nature."

To McLeod, Peterson's point is right on the money. He bristles at the current state of affairs in which professional musicians are legally required to go through lawyers in order to get permission for sampling others' songs.

This dynamic has "stunted the growth of hip-hop and hip-hop sampling," he said. "The golden age of hip-hop ended about 15 years ago. You have to be Kanye West to buy a $100,000 sample, rather than the more free-form sampling that De La Soul and Public Enemy engaged in."

Some involved in the contest feel the message they want to spread is that it is a good thing to be able to legally build on other people's work. And by having the contest organized under the rubric of Creative Commons, the idea is that music should be treated the same as any other form of copyrightable material.

"I think that all the people...focused on in this documentary get the idea of using or reusing other people's work as being something beneficial to the cultural conversation, and the cultural world," said Eric Steuer, creative director at Creative Commons. "We knew that all those people would be receptive to the idea, and every single one of them are people that use samples in their work. (So) they're very open to being sampled and reused."

Some might expect that the Recording Industry Association of America would have serious problems with the aims of Creative Commons. But according to Steuer, that's not the case.

"They're supportive of what we're doing because we're providing a way to do this legally," he said. "They don't want people doing this stuff without permission. The licenses provide the mechanism for doing this legally."

In an article in Wired Magazine, former RIAA CEO Hillary Rosen described how she came to understand how Creative Commons licenses could be good for the music industry.

"I had dismissed Creative Commons as a sleight-of-hand maneuver, a way to mouth platitudes about the benefits of copyright while in fact joining ranks with the Everything for Free Foundation," Rosen wrote. "But I've come to love Creative Commons. The organization seeks to calm some of music's roiling waters, from unlawful sampling to file-sharing."

And those are the very reasons why artists like Peterson are growing to rely on the licensing organization to help them do more creative work while staying on the right side of the law.

"I'm just really supportive of the Creative Commons movement," Peterson said. "And I hope that I can make more music with it and that more people can be inspired as well."

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5 comments

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Copyright?
Copyright theft, when the courts have always upheld the right to free speech and parody!

Oh well, let the innovators win, for without them, we will have a booring world, with the clone sound-a-like the major labels and others in the powers to be, would foist upon us all!

Vive la revolution!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
proofread please
Have any of you guys ever given any pubic submissions?
Posted by talus7 (15 comments )
Link Flag
Remix
As a composer and musician, I find the use of "musician" in referring to remixers as an insult. It takes no musical training to "remix". Also, taking the work of others without their permisiion is stealing, and wrong. It doesn't matter what you might want. Just because you WANT something doesn't mean you have ANY right to just take it. "Urban culture" glorifies the worst in human behaviour, and should not be used as a standard to live by.
Posted by gearpig (10 comments )
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Am I raising little criminals?
My kids are "sampling" all the time. They are not creating music, but they do create images by copying what they find using Google, and they create games using images and sounds thay take wherever they can find it. They don't chack for "legality" and they don't care about it. To them it seems natuaral that they can use whatever they can find. Tehey are focused on their creations. With my 11 years old I discussed this subject (the trigger was a background image in one of the games he programmed. He didn't remember where it came from except that it was found using Google images, and we couldn't find the same picture again, or any image that could replace it. It's not a problem if it stays at home, but that particular game was good enough to distribute to friends, and that got me thinking about what happens if it gets distributed too widely and one of the copyright sharks decides to sue. Am I paranoid? I have my kids' future to worry about. Eventually he decided it worked better with a black backgroung.)

My 5 years old kid copies stuff from Google images to MS Paint all the time. He cannot be taught about copyrights at his age, and I prefer not to limit his creativity. Am I raising little criminals?

It would be helpful if I could set Google search on my Kids' computers to show only CC licensed images, but I suspect this would produce very little results so eventually it would go unused if I want not to limit their creativity.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
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um it's not creativity to take other people's stuff.
Posted by landonpt (1 comment )
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