Sampling has become a mainstay in music and it’s come a long way from the straight-up sound clips of early hip-hop, establishing itself as an art unto itself. The new documentary Copyright Criminals takes a look at the legality and the evolution of recontextualizing music along with all the questions that it generates.
Director Benjamin Franzen manages to outline both sides of the issue and presents a tremendous amount of information in a tight 54 minute piece, giving a range of viewpoints from artists famed for sampling such as: De La Soul, Chuck D, and Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys to those who have been sampled the most such as: George Clinton and James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield. The film follows the timeline of the practice, hitting on major lawsuits and outlining copyright law with interpretations from lawyers and business perspectives from producers and record company executives.
The film is as interesting and entertaining as it is relevant and is a must see for the modern musician but it also manages to entertain with wonderful clips by the Eclectic Method, a group that samples music paired to video clips making their sources overt while creating a much more sensory experience. The film rhetorically asks the provocative question “can you own a sound?” To get a glimpse or to purchase the DVD check out www.copyrightcriminals.com