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Copyright Criminals: Can You Own A Sound?

Copyright Criminals is a documentary that examines the use of sampling in hip-hop.

Kyana Gordon
Kyana Gordon on January 18, 2010. @Tropikyana

Copyright Criminals, a documentary examining the use of sampling in hip-hop, is scheduled to make its broadcast premier on PBS this week. The film features luminaries on both sides of the sampling debate, including Public Enemy, De La Soul, DJ Spooky, George Clinton and funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s drummer and the world’s most sampled musician). The film traces the roots of hip-hop from the streets of New York to a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers reused portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original recordings. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became copyright infringement. As artists search for original ways to fuse old influences with new material, this documentary asks the pointed question, on behalf of an entire creative community: Can you own a sound?

View the trailer for Copyright Criminals:
copyright-trailer
[via Copyright Criminals]

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