illegal sampling...

soliptic May 24, 2004

  1. soliptic

    soliptic whirling mathematician

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    i dont know if any of your remember "daybreak blues" a track of mine i posted on here ages ago (dec 03 i think). it was built around a sample from a tune on the 'o brother' soundtrack, which was readily spotted.

    now i must say i enjoyed making that tune, i was very happy with the end result, and these days i find myself quite in favour of doing that sort of thing... specifically in fact i've just started something on a similar principle (arguably a more obscure lift, but pretty similar).

    i'm wondering how wise it is.... after all there's no point making great tunes if you either cant get them heard or released anywhere, or else u get them released but then sued into oblivion :mad:

    so what are people's opinions on the pragmatic side of things? i'm not so much interested your morals/ethics on the matter (i'm quite happy to loosely bat around words like "recontextualisation" to justify my sampling behaviour, at the same time i do totally appreciate that they're writing half the tune for me and deserve some cut. i get the impression tho that trying to go above board with sort of thing doesnt really happen. majors dont agree to psytrance labels sampling the shit out of their artists, so you either put it out and hope to stay under the radar, or dont. am i right?)

    i'm more intersted in how easy you think u can get away with it these days. i mean, i see a lot of tunes with movie samples and the recent trend of awful novelty bootlegs, i know people get away with that. but i cant think of tracks built like my 'daybreak blues' (maybe thats just cos i havent reconised their steals!?)

    does it happen, or am i nuts to try it?

    i know the obvious comeback is "edit and process it to disguise it" - well, i've just shoved a load of filters, delays, etc on the loop i just nicked, and artistically speaking, i'm happy, that i've altered that in such a way to fit my new usage of it. realistically tho the artist would surely still be able to recognise it tho, possibly even fans of the artist. i dont want to process any further just for the sake of disguise because once you get to a certain point of alteration there was no point in sampling, you've processe out the magic that you wanted from the sample in the first place.
     
  2. jamez_23

    jamez_23 Blah

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    Well, as music its perfectly valid .......

    .... and if you enjoy doing it and are happy with the outcome then surely its worth doing ......

    ... lots of tracks are reworks of other tracks .... or just simply inspired by other tracks .... if its good stuff then its good stuff !!!!
     
  3. saxopholus

    saxopholus Junior Members

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    which track from 'O Brother'??? I think in this case the sample is so processed and vague, being a hum, that u could say "yes, it is similar isn't it, but I sang it myself" :P .

    My opinion may be different if u tell me the title track and I hear the original tho.

    There has to be some limit tho to how far you can go with such samples. I mean it would be ridiculous for labels to ask for royalties for drum breaks used in dnb, especially when they are just filtered, distorted, etc. versions of the original, or would it? Maybe it's easier to get away with sampling drums anyway?

    Sax.
     
  4. soliptic

    soliptic whirling mathematician

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    i think drum loops are much easier to get away with than loops of music (not to suggest drums arent music, you know what i mean :cool: )
     
  5. generaljoe

    generaljoe Member

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    To be honest, with psy sales what they are, I'd doubt anyone'd even bother to sue. You have to have made money from it in order that they can get said money taken off you, and if you've made no money from it... well... I reckon you're OK.

    There's no way that GMS have got their MCPS or equivalent sorted out, they haven't made a tune in the last 3 years that didn't have samples from a blockbuster Hollywood movie in it, and they haven't been sued. I reckon you're probably safe. :Smile3:
     
  6. soliptic

    soliptic whirling mathematician

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    thats pretty much my line of thought exactly but I was interested to get a few other perspectives. largely because, like i said, while i've heard umpteen billion illegal samples gotten away with, they've always been movies / breaks / etc and not little two bar riffs and stuff.

    Ott, I'd be interested to hear take on this, as I know you've said before you like making tracks as sort-of "tributes" based on favourites from your collection ("kraftwerk -> smoked glass" sticks in my head). Ever actually nicked anything from a favourite old record, as opposed to just taking an indirect artistic influence? Ever then gone on to release such a track? Hmm... even if you had, I forsee some pleading of the fifth coming up :P
     
  7. Ott^

    Ott^ Guest

    I don't tend to use samples from other people's records in my stuff - but only cos I don't think to do it. Its not an ideological objection or anything.

    I don't like the whole "movie sample soundbite" thing cos I reckon its been done to death. Usually they just sound lazy and glib and annoy the hell out of me.

    Notable exceptions are "...I'm on fucking FIRE! and "Lets pump ourselves full of magic monkey juice and take a trip to Spaceland!!"


    There is a tune going around at the moment with a sample of some Califorian-sounding woman going " ...probably the most spiritual thing that ever happened in my life..." and it makes me want to stab her in the eyes with a knitting needle. Its an entirely meaningless sentiment, used in the most vapid and perfunctory manner.

    I have used a few spoken word samples in my tunes but only cos I think they convey something that resonates with my mood at the time. I tend to favour the Dalai Lama [cos I like what he says, and he's really slow to sue people.. ] and the late Alan Watts - who was one of the most astute philosophers we ever had. Generally, dead men don't sue - unless they happen to be Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley.

    I reckon General Joe is 99% right when he says;

    For a trance tune that sells 2000 copies, its probably not even worth the price of the phone call to the lawyer in most cases.

    Remember though that all the big movie and record co's have their own in-house legal departments, and it costs them just a few minutes of manpower to send you a standard letter threatening to injunct your record - and this can really sour relations with your label.

    A few years back, I was editing and compiling an album for one of the better known trance pioneers. They had used a brilliant sample from a well known US TV series, and because it was so prominent in the tune, they applied to United Artists [the copyright holders] for sample clearance.

    "No problem" came the reply "you may use the sample and we will charge you our minimum sample clearance rate, as it is such a small sample."

    Unfortunately, because UA are so enormous, the minimum figure they will deal with is £10,000. Anything lower just isn't worth collecting. That was twice the budget for the entire album.

    As they had already supplied details of the sample to UA, they couldn't risk using it on the sly and so we had to remove it.

    Bah.

    Bootlegs aside [1200 Mics' "Acid For Nothing", Eskimo's "Voodoo People" thing etc...] i think nicking a chunk of other people's tune is just a bit lazy.

    As I found a few years back to my eternal embarrasment.

    In about 1995 - 1996, I was making [dodgy] trance records under the name "ECO". One time I was stuck for a breakdown and so I hit on the idea of picking out a cassette at random from my music pile and sampling a random 30 seconds of whatever came on first. I bunged in the cassette and grabbed a load of random swooshing about that just happened to be there on the tape, and used it for my breakdown. It wasn't until 6 months later that somebody pointed out that I'd accidentally lifted 30 seconds of a well-known Hallucinogen track, and reversing the sample hadn't masked it at all. So - my tune is bobbing along, and all of a sudden it turns into one of Simon's - pretty much exactly as he had mixed it.

    Duh!

    Won't do that again.

    :unsure:
     
  8. Ott^

    Ott^ Guest

    Gentlemen, that reminds me...

    Anyone remember a tune by The Verve called "Bittersweet Symphony" with that lovely string melody as the main hook?

    That is sampled from an album of orchestral Rolling Stones' tunes on which the Rolling Stones don't even appear.

    Nevertheless, The Stones sued Hut records and were awarded 100% of the publishing for that tune - thats all of the songwriting money. The publishing on a hit single like that would be quite a bit, and you'd think that poor, skint Richard Ashcroft would be gutted at having to give his best song to a bunch of wrinkly old multi-millionaires - until you remember that the string sample was the hook that made the single a hit, and that single was pretty much responsible for making the album sell like hot cakes and putting The Verve into the big league.

    Their album has sold nearly 10 million copies to date.

    A classic case of "using a sprat to catch a mackerel".
     
  9. saxopholus

    saxopholus Junior Members

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    :o flip didn't know that! Gutter like you say! That was their biggest tune. Considering how prominent the string melody is it would be or rather it was more difficult to mask. I'm very surprised that they would sample a string line like that and then release it as a single, it does seem lazy. I'm sure that it would take someone with a good ear for a hook 5-10 minutes to take that as inspiration but devise something original. That's still sort of cheating but not plagiarism.

    For instance our band has done some covers in the past, but we wouldn't dream of releasing them even though they were very different to the original. They are there just as a crowd pleaser in a live performance.

    An analogy can be made with regard to improvisation say in Jazz. A soloist may use well known melody for comic or perhaps artistic effect, or perhaps echo a lick from a previous soloist. It is not really lazy per se, but perhaps a way of extrapolating the theme, or just expressing an unusual interpretation of something familiar.

    Sax.
     
  10. soliptic

    soliptic whirling mathematician

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    Ott - yeah, well, like I said, I'm not really bothered about getting into the "creative" or "lazy" debate. I'm happy with myself for being creative, I'm also prepared to realise there is an element of 'laziness' going on... The one thing I will say is that I never sample within the same genre, eg, psytrance for psytrance, dnb for dnb. Generally its about nicking guitar, vocal etc from gospel, jazz, soul, etc records, for dub/chillout stuff.

    I did know about that Verve example but obviously that was top 10 business and my obscure psyambient is not :Grin:

    @james- i dont know... I seem to remember hearing that they tried taking it out / replacing it / etc, but it simply destroyed the song. knowing the song - i can believe it. once you'd written it with that melody, you could never change it or remove it and stay happy that the track was keeping its magic. also, I seem to recall they re-recorded it (to avoid the MCPS payments), but obviously couldnt escape the PRS judgement. Although they did get shafted, I've strictly limited sympathy, because no court could honestly conclude the string motif is 100% of the songwriting in that track - the only reason it was set to that is punishment because they didnt ask permission beforehand.
     
  11. soliptic

    soliptic whirling mathematician

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    PS. The issue rapidly becomes academic, as I find myself totally unable to build anything further with that sample :Grin:

    I hate it when I get a loop going on (whether self-created/sampled/mixture of the two, i mean), and its simultaneously 'too much' to stick new stuff on top of, and not enough to actually hold its own ... i scrap hundreds of tune-ideas that way :mad:
     
  12. saxopholus

    saxopholus Junior Members

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    I think they could perhaps have subtley changed with a couple of extra notes here or there, added some little runs up scales, changes in incidental notes upscales (I hear it in my head, ya seee :? ), perhaps some violas playing pizzicato (or whatever it's called when they bounce the bow on the string) crotchets underneath, etc. and they may have got away with it, maybe not. Not radically different, but not a direct sample. I don't think it would be that difficult to do as long as the court would be satisfied. Nevertheless it's all water under the bridge now...

    Sax.
     
  13. Ott^

    Ott^ Guest

    You're missing the point.

    Cos of that sample, the tune was a hit. Cos that tune was a hit, the album was a hit.

    10 million copies later and I'm sure they no longer care.
     
  14. JPsychodelicacy

    JPsychodelicacy Studio Elf

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    Amazon Link

    It's slightly wrong (should be Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra), but look up Track 11, the orchestral version of 'The Last Time'.

    That's the puppy.

    In fact they were refused permission to use the sample anyway - so they re-recorded it (it does sound subtly different), yet they were *still* forced to give The Stones' publishing company the money anyway. Ott's point does stand though - Ashcroft doesn't need to ever release another song again if he plays his cards right (thank god!).

    I'm not sure if it's the Stones themselves, or Abkco Music (their notoriously litigious publisher) doing the suing, but I remember being very narked that I couldn't get hold of 'After The Watershed' by Carter USM, because they'd threatened Rough Trade with legal action over the use of the words 'Goodbye Ruby Tuesday' - which was in there as a parody/homage anyway!

    J.
     
  15. andrew

    andrew open your mind

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    funny - i reckon on this the days where psy trance producers can sample movies willy nilly are numbered due to copyright.. i can't think of a specific example, but i know that for ages people in mainstream dance have been moving away from sampling and there's been plenty of articles in future music etc titled - "sampling - turn your tune into a timebomb" and the like... as there has been a feature on psy trance in dj mag last week and the aforementioned boom of psy this year i daresay it won't be long until we see alien project going to jail for bad scifi sampling... (and he deserves it)

    glib, and often irrelevant... it's good to have vocals in ya tune as they catch peoples minds , and ones that mention stuff like "we're going to outer space" etc are usually onit for a heaving dancefloor, but i hate ones that mention aggressive stuff - i heard a brilliant tune the other day which i went off quikly in the break when they started going on about the ancient rules of combat .... yada yada.. don't you get the point of dancing??!!!!!

    I've started sampling vocals from more obscure sources, bit more work but they sound cool :Smile3:

    Andrew
    [Voice of Cod, MrBiscuit]
    www.organicrecords.net
     
  16. goa_kev

    goa_kev Forum Member

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    I was most distressed by the "Art of Feng Shui"s Bruce Lee style ha, ye, ha, wa, ha, ye, ha! :P

    :Wink3:
     
  17. goa_kev

    goa_kev Forum Member

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    Just outta interest, did Natalia Imbruglia ever get done for Torn? (cant remember what the sample was she stole)
     
  18. Ott^

    Ott^ Guest

    It wasn't sampled, but it was a bit too close to "She's a Star" by James for a few people's comfort. I know cos I was working with em at the time.


    It turned out to be "close - but no cigar."
     
  19. saxopholus

    saxopholus Junior Members

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    shrewd bastards! Everyone wins, and especially the lawyers. Hmm... whose tune can I rip off then....

    Sax.
     
  20. andrew

    andrew open your mind

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    hehe - yeah right ... shouldn't take this too seriously guys.. but some tunes have got this agressive streak without our (hopefully amusing) sense of humour..

    [​IMG]
     
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