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Old January 18th, 2006, 12:10 PM   #1
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Sampling movies

What's the law when it comes to bands sampling movies? I can think of lots of bands that constantly sample movies and I know there's no way they licensed the sample.

I find it kinda odd that film makers are very cautious when it comes to using copyrighted music, but musicians are quite careless when it comes to sampling movies.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #2
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Are you talking about when using it at a live performance or in a music video?
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Old January 19th, 2006, 11:57 AM   #3
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Disclaimer: I am no lawyer so this is all just my general understanding from knowing musicians and asking their opinion:

Musicians, DJs, what have you, who publish must secure the rights to every sample regardless of length. Their label is the one at risk. If it is themselves, then they are themselves open to being sued, their recording taken off the shelves. Of course skilled audio engineers can futz and remix anything so that it is no longer recognizable i.e. diminish chances of being caught. But then, the value of the sample is not there. Sample crazy acts like "The Avalanches" most definitely secure rights for every sample they use. You can see their credits list is a mile long on their album jacket.

The other factor is whether or not it can be shown that sampling the movie harmed the rights holders of the movie. I'll let a lawyer handle this one but a consideration may be that it is harder to prove that someone would rather hear the sample of a movie as played in a snippet in a song versus actually seeing the movie. Are ticket or DVD sales harmed because of the samples inclusion in a different medium. It becomes much more risky if a riff from another musician's song was used without permission as it is the same medium. If the riff is the key part of the original song and becomes the major part of the sampler's work, then you can see how there could be harm.

I should point out that some musicians may create their own 'samples' that sound like they were taken from an old movie but were actually created originally.

And of course there are public domain sources of movies. Some favourites are government propaganda.

For performances, it falls into the category of "will it be noticed"? Common sense is that you wouldn't want to base a live recording on something with copyright violations. But if you are not recording it for publishing later, then how will it get back to the rights holder? You can't be sure, obviously, who is in the crowd.

There was the 'Grey Album' a year or a couple years ago which famously mashed the Beatles White Album with Jay Z. As a work of music, it worked really well. I doubt you can get a legal copy of it anywhere but its notoriety and exposure you cannot buy. Grafitti is also illegal but the best grafitti artists eventually have the chance to work commercially and start out as artists for the sake of it. A night in jail and a misdemeanour with fine is a risk they take.

Please note: I am not endorsing breaking the law.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 12:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Costa
Are you talking about when using it at a live performance or in a music video?
I'm talking about bands who sample sound bites from movies and put them in their songs. For instance, Kill Whitney Dead (a band) practically uses more samples than music on their album. The death metal band Mortician uses a sample from a horror movie at the begining of each song and sometimes they are really long samples.
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