February 27, 2006 4:00 AM PST
'Copyright criminals' look to remix the noise--legally
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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."
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,
"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."
"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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