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Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport

A documentary by Benjamin Franzen & Kembrew McLeod

Banner for Copyright Criminals

“Copyright Criminals” is an episode from the PBS series, Independent Lens, which premiered January 19th of this year. Independent Lens is a series that “introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent thinkers: filmmakers who are taking creative risks, calling their own shots and finding untold stories in unexpected places”. If you like this feature then check out the rest of the series, it’s very well done.

The reason I chose to feature this documentary is because (a.) apparently, I need to post more than just music, or so some of my viewers think; (b.) it informs viewers about the problems and benefits of DJ’s sampling music from a fairly neutral perspective; and (c.) simply put, it’s a good watch. I’ve watched a couple of other documentaries about music sampling, and I felt this one was the least bias. It gave fair and equal arguments to both sides of the situation, and presented it in a professional, yet engaging fashion.

There are many DJ/producers featured in this documentary, my favorite being Jeff Chang, author of a book I’m reading right now, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, and more importantly, a founding member of the Soulsides record label (which is now Quannum Projects). Others featured include Public Enemy & George Clinton, but the most sincere & touching artist featured was Clyde Stubblefield (drummer for James Brown). Clyde talks about his openness and appreciation for people sampling his music, but only asks for one thing in return, credit! Even over money, Clyde just wants people to recognize that he was the original creator. I mean common, if you’re gonna sample someone’s music, the least you can do is credit them (among other things, case by case). I think that’s fair… don’t you Give us your opinions in the comments section. We’d love to hear ’em.

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