Girl Talk's "Sample Clearance" Process Broken Down
As a recent FMC blog post points out, Girl Talk and his label Illegal Art believe his work is legal under the "fair use principle,” a term in copyright law that recognizes that a copyrighted work can be used for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research” without being considered infringing. Also, because Gillis samples are short and "his music sounds so little like the songs he takes from, it is unlikely to affect their sales,” a New York Times article wrote. Gillis therefore contends he should be covered under fair use.
The FCM post then looks at the sampling clearance process itself, which is pretty complex for our small minds. From what we can gather, in a nutshell Girl Talk would have to get the original artists to say "yes” or "no” to the use of their work for the album to be totally legit. To do this Gillis would have to get all copyright owners and the composer/publisher for each work he sampled on board, which for his latest album Feed the Animals would mean getting 600 people to say "Yes” and zero to say "no.” This would all take a long, long time and would need all lot of sweat, determination and luck to go down.
So, if Girl Talk could somehow track down everyone who owns all the copyrights and get permission for all the samples, then he would come face to face with the cost of it all. Gillis would have to negotiate the licensing with each party individually (again, that’s 600 people) and then the price of using the sample would all be case by case, with things like the original artist’s street cred, negotiating history between publishers and managers and how the sample will affect the artist’s back catalog all being factors that could raise costs. Basically, it would all take Gillis so much time to do this and cost so much cash that he would sooner ditch the album than make it legal. But hey, there’s a reason his label is called Illegal Art.
For a more complete, detailed version of all this, check out the Future of Music Coalition post. It’s a doozy.
Girl Talk "Bounce That” (fan video)
NewsMay 22, 2015
Thom Yorke Creates 18-Day Ambient Soundtrack for Art Exhibit
Eat your heart out, the Flaming Lips. While the Oklahoma band famously recorded a 24-hour song a few years ago, Radiohead frontman Thom York...
NewsMay 21, 2015
Late of the Pier's Ross Dawson Dies in "Sudden and Tragic Accident"
British dance-punk combo Late of the Pier have been inactive for several years, with member Sam Dust recently launching a solo project calle...
NewsMay 20, 2015
An Essential Guide to Jim O'Rourke
If you're looking for a truly punishing musical challenge, try becoming a Jim O'Rourke completist. Since the late '80s, the Chicago-raised, ...
NewsMay 19, 2015
Ratatat Return with 'Magnifique' LP
New York-based experimental electro-rock duo Ratatat recently broke five years of silence when they delivered "Cream on Chrome" last month. ...
NewsMay 12, 2015
James Murphy Opening His Own Brooklyn Wine Bar
Since LCD Soundsystem's split a few years ago, mastermind James Murphy has become something of a renaissance man and has dipped his toes int...
NewsMay 12, 2015
HÆLOS Sign to Matador for 'Earth Not Above' EP
On Facebook, British trio HÆLOS list their inception date as being just seven months ago. In that short time, they've already done very well...
NewsMay 12, 2015
Mas Ysa Reveals Debut Album, Shares "Margarita"
Montreal-born musician Thomas Arsenault made his debut as Mas Ysa with last year's Worth EP and followed it up with the single "Look Up," bu...
NewsMay 06, 2015
Purity Ring to Play Free Homecoming Show in Edmonton
Electro-pop darlings Purity Ring have already had a big year, releasing their sophomore record Another Eternity and gracing the cover of Exc...