Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music

November 21, 2006

Sample Trolls are a Symptom of the Disease

Filed under: Music Industry — maths @ 11:22 pm

Sample Troll

I would like to offer a slightly different point of view to Tim Wu’s article on Sample Trolls in Slate magazine. I think a sample troll like Brigdeport might be just the kind of welcome catalyst that the industry needs to clean up the whole sample clearing business.

Currently, it is an arduous task to clear samples where the copyright owner has the sample seeker at his mercy and many have abused this position, the most notable victims being The Verve. For those not familiar with the case, The Verve re-recorded a looped sample based on a few seconds off the symphonic recording of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time” for their hit Bittersweet Symphony. The publishing rights for this song was owned by ABKCO Music controlled by former Rolling Stones manager Alan Klein. The Verve initially managed to get sample clearance but once the song was destined to become a hit, Klein demanded full 100% royalties for it by claiming that the Verve used too much of the original song, otherwise the track would have to be deleted from the album. The Verve had no choice but to give in and as such, never earned a cent from the song. In fact, as part
of the settlement, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are now bizzarely credited as the sole songwriters of Bittersweet Symphony!

    Bridgeport has cleverly found a niche in the business by cashing in on arbitrary terms and ambiguous ownership details – however, their faking of Clinton’s signature was a total and criminal abuse of the system. However, I do feel that there is probably a need for an unambiguous and fairer sampling clearance house with transparent royalty accounting methods.

The music industry was builty up by using obfuscated terms so as not to present transparent royalty accounting and it laid the foundation in the first place for abusers like Bridgeport, so eradicating Bridgeport is only addressing a product of the system and does not get to the root of evil.

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