Term Extension Versus Samplers


Term Extension Versus Samplers

THE KIND OF copyright we create determines who will profit from creativity. It also determines whose work will be poorly compensated—or even banned.

Take music sampling. Incorporating snatches of one song into another has long been an integral part of musical performance. It’s the basis of styles like calypso, and it has been widely practiced in popular music, from legendary jazz solos that grab a few bars of another song to the excerpt from “La Marseillaise” that opens the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” It’s a feature in classical music, of course, where “themes” from one composer find their way into other composers’ works, and it’s popped up in many live performances—for example, Lukas Kmit’s 2011 virtuoso moment during a violin recital in Presov, Slovakia, which was interrupted by a phone emitting the Nokia ringtone. Kmit lifted his bow from the strings, and the hall fell silent, except for the ringing phone. After a moment, Kmit began to improvise on the (over)familiar song. The performance that follows is astounding. It’s great music. It’s also perfectly legal. Go look up the video on YouTube. You’ll thank me.

Analog “sampling” is legal. Copyright systems have always recognized that it’s seemly, proper, and legitimate for a few notes from one song to find their way into another. Copyright doesn’t give composers or performers the right to prevent this practice.

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