Did you know that DJ Shadow actually cleared some samples for Endtroducing? I recently broke out my vinyl copy of Endtroducing the other day and was surprised to see the following songs listed in the liner as being licensed: Bjork “Possibly Maybe”; Pekka Pohjola “The Madness Subsides”; Motion “Voice of the Saxophone”; Jeremy Storch “I Feel a New Shadow”; Tangerine Dream “Invisible Limits”; and Nirvana (the UK not Seattle Nirvana) “Love Suite”.
Most of us assume that works published before 1923 are in the public domain due to copyright expiration but usually PD works lack the same kind of identifying mark the (c) notice provides. Earlier this week Creative Commons unveiled its Public Domain Mark to identify works free of known restrictions under copyright law. The idea is that works bearing this symbol can be copied, modified, remixed, performed, without permission (even for commercial purposes). This is a cool idea but who is going to monitor honest and accurate labeling? Are those who rely on this symbol leaning backwards in a sort of IP trust fall? Before you take the plunge, consider CC’s caveat:
The Public Domain Mark contains a disclaimer of warranties… so there is no assurance whatsoever that the work is free of all copyright restrictions in every jurisdiction around the world just because the mark is applied. You should also be aware of restrictions or limitations beyond copyright that may apply, such privacy, publicity, personal data laws and the like. If you are in doubt, then we strongly recommend you not use the work until you have taken all the steps and precautions you feel you need to before doing so, which may include contacting the person who applied the PDM to the work and consulting legal counsel.
If you’re looking for a quick reference, check out Cornell’s Peter B. Hirtle’s excellent chart on copyright term and the public domain (also available as a PDF.)
UCLA Law School’s Prof. Doug Lichtman’s IP Colloquium project offers several interesting podcasts about IP and technology. Of use to samplists and purveyors of derivative culture are thought-provoking discussions of Derivative Work, Copyright Termination, and First Sale Doctrine. The podcasts are updated every 2-3 months and attorneys in some jurisdictions can even receive CLE credit. After downloading podcasts, be sure to check out the “Suggested Reading” (typically a few important decisions) that go along with each episode.
From the world of irony, we bring you this story: a Taiwanese man who won a poster design competition to promote copyright protection has been stripped of his $1500 prize after he was exposed as a copycat.
The man, identified only by his surname Wu, admitted his winning design was copied from a work by Dutch artist Dennis Sibeijn featuring a paper plane and, ironically, titled Truth, officials said yesterday.
How did this case come to light? A subway rider in Taipei, who had been to Holland recently and seen Sibeijn’s poster, spotted the similarity of the designs. The Taiwan poster was posted in all the metropolitican subways this summer to warn the public about copyright theft.
They’re back. The Duke Law trio (James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins & Keith Aoki) who brought you Bound By Law (the comic book about Fair Use) will soon publish Theft! A History of Music, a comic book about IP and music.
Here is a great video of Jenkins talking about the project.
The documentary Copyright Criminals airs on PBS this week so check your local listings. For those who haven’t seen it, you’ll wish it was 4 hours longer. There’s just no way to cover all the interesting aspects and stories about sampling in an hour. Omitted is Negativland/U2, Verve/Rolling Stones, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, nor any mention of DJ Shadow, Prince Paul, Girl Talk, Amon Tobin, Fatboy Slim, the cut-ups/musique concrete era, the legal/cultural difference between mixed media in visual art vs. music, etc. I don’t think the phrase “derivative work” is used once. Lessig makes a very brief appearance but should have been given way more time. There is too much time wasted on these video mash-ups of Michael Jackson videos that could have been spent on philosophical content. Moreover, nobody in the film suggests a solution to the problem. That said, the stuff on Hank Shocklee and Clyde Stubblefield is worth watching and kudos to PBS for embracing the issue.
A few years ago I was interviewed about sampling by WNYC’s Jad Abumrad for his amazing radio show Radiolab. (For those unfamiliar with Radiolab, do yourselves a huge favor and check it out immediately. It’s sort of like Bill Nye the Science Guy for hep adults and always an incredible sonic experience.) Although the show about sampling never aired, Jad, a musician himself, devoted an hour to exploring “Musical Language“. It’s a fascinating examination of what music is and how it works. It had a profound affect on me as a musician. If you only listen to one episode of Radiolab, listen to that one.
It was through Radiolab that I discovered Oliver Sacks, a prolific writer and neuroscientist. His recent book “Musicophilia” is the subject of a new PBS documentary airing this week. NOVA Musical Minds looks to be as engaging and interesting as the book. I strongly urge you to check it out.