Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Copyright Ignorance from

In connection with yesterday's post about Girl Talk's new album, I can't help but mention today's post on by James Montgomery. Montgomery writes of listening to the album while flying on a plane along with L.L. Cool J and wondering:
Song seven on the [Girl Talk] record is called "Like This," and it features, in addition to a whole lot of other things, two very audible samples of LL's "Mama Said Knock You Out," two samples that Girl Talk did not obtain LL's permission to use, which means that they appear in the song illegally, which means that LL is not getting paid for their usage, which would probably make LL very upset if he had any idea that this was happening. (emphasis added.)
Then Montgomery writes that Girl Talk's Greg Willis uses "the concept of 'fair use' to shield himself from any pesky copyright suits."

I can't believe someone from is writing on these issues from such a state of ignorance. It's far from certain that what Girl Talk is doing is "illegal," and "fair use" is no "technicality" to shield one from copyright infringement lawsuits. It's one's constitutional right.

And, incidentally, D.J. Danger Mouse has not, as Montgomery implies, "left the [musical collage] genre behind.

Addendum: First, according to Will in the comments, Mr. Montgomery should have known better than to think LL Cool J would've been upset by Girl Talk's appropriation because
"LL recently recorded a 'mixtape' called 'Return of the G.O.A.T.' featuring a number of freestyles over uncleared sampled beats."

Second, and more important in trying to determine whether Girl Talk's appropriations constitute fair use, Mr. Montgomery's own evaluation of Girl Talk's music basically makes the case that the use is "transformative" and therefore does constitute fair use. He writes: "[Girl Talk's] new album is so great, the kind of thing that could not have existed 10 years ago, an audio time capsule of the era in which we live. The kind of thing that can inspire post-millennial dilemmas at 37,000 feet."

Then again, inasmuch as Mr. Montgomery is a shill for MTV, and MTV is part of a corporate conglomerate with every interest in hiding the realities of fair use from the public, it should be no surprise that he writes with such ignorance about fair use. Here are some posts to try to begin to bring him up to speed.

1 comment:

Will said...

Maybe it is not too much of a surprise that would prove ignorant on the issue of fair use. Still sad, though. Since he mentions the possibility of LL Cool J's anger at not getting paid for samples being used by Girl Talk, I figured it worth noting that LL Cool J is in fact participating in another form of copyright infringement - bootlegging. LL recently recorded a "mixtape" called "Return of the G.O.A.T." featuring a number of freestyles over uncleared sampled beats. You can find this all over the internet and probably at any mixtape shop on the web. I am all for mixtape freedom as well, though mixtapes likely wouldn't qualify as fair use. Still, were LL to get angry, that would make him a hypocrite. But someone should just ask him what he thinks instead of assuming it.