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Copyright Criminals


None January 23rd, 2010

none ! important; margin: 0px ! important;" width="1" border="0" height="1" />" makes a great case for the decriminalization of music sampling "” that is, using a snatch of someone else's recording to make a new recording. To borrow a point from the film, it'd be like someone taking a phrase from this review and using it "” mixed-up, mashed or otherwise "” for another written work. What's the harm in that?

Well, it all comes down to money, of course. Artists want to be paid when even a single note or word from their songs are used in others' tunes, and admittedly, it's a sticky situation.

But it's also an art form. To see sampling in action, to see the turntable used as an instrument, is as pleasing to the eyes as the ears. It takes talent, and the end result is exciting and revolutionary.

Directed by Benjamin Franzen, the doc includes talking-head interviews with trailblazers like Chuck D, De La Soul and George Clinton, but shines brightest when it compares the sample to its original side-by-side, and when it runs down the groundbreaking legal battles, such as Biz Markie raising the ire of Gilbert O'Sullivan. (However, it would have been nice to hear more, like Negativland's notorious run-in with U2, or DJ Shadow's crafting of one of the first all-sample albums in "Endtroducing...")

Oh, and it's a joy to see Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown's longtime man-on-the-sticks, playing "Funky Drummer." The old man's still got it.

The DVD has one of the coolest features ever in a soundtrack player with 17 full tracks from EL-P, RJD2 and Cannibal Ox. (Too bad they're not downloadable.) There are also four shorts on remix culture and fair use, but they range from mildly informative to blandly dry. "”Rod Lott


 
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